Credit-reporting agency TransUnion quietly hired a full slate of new cybersecurity-focused lobbyists in the nation’s capital roughly a month after one of its rivals, Equifax, reported a major data breach affecting 145 million Americans.
In its filing, TransUnion revealed little about its political agenda. It merely disclosed that its new Washington, D.C.-based lobbyists — all of whom have ties to senior Republicans in Congress — would focus on “issues affecting data security, privacy and cyber-security,” according to a federal ethics disclosure.
A spokesman for TransUnion said in an email to Recode on Saturday that it had “engaged additional lobbyists to help us monitor and respond to legislative and regulatory reaction to the Equifax breach announcement.”
The spokesman did not address whether TransUnion had experienced its own breach, including one similar to the incident at Equifax. Previously, though, TransUnion executives have said they were not the target of the same attack.
In September, Equifax revealed it had fallen victim to a major cyber incident in which hackers, potentially state-sponsored, compromised the names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, driver’s license information and other sensitive data points for more than 145 million Americans — or about 40 percent of the U.S. population.
Since then, Equifax has found itself under siege — including from states like New York, regulators at the Federal Trade Commission and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, which grilled the company’s former chief executive, Richard Smith, at multiple hearings last week.
In doing so, lawmakers have also threatened to crack down on the whole credit-reporting industry. Some have floated the need for new restrictions on the data that the three major bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — can collect in the first place. Others have called for new rules as to how, and when, credit-reporting agencies disclose potential security incidents — as well as better tools for consumers so that they can more easily freeze or monitor their credit if their data is compromised.
For its part, TransUnion has acknowledged that it has felt the fallout from Equifax’s cybersecurity crisis. The chief financial officer of TransUnion, Todd Cello, said last week that the company is spending more money on call centers as consumers seek answers and credit freezes. While Cello acknowledged at the time that TransUnion used the same software implicated in the Equifax breach, he said that TransUnion had kept that software up to date — so it does not believe it has fallen victim to the same attack.
Still, TransUnion is sure to be lapped up in any new regulation targeting the industry, including new pledges from one of the U.S. government’s top watchdogs — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — to embed regulators at each of the three credit-reporting agencies in a bid to force them to improve their digital defenses.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.