Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before.

Following this weeks’ news of the massive data breach at Equifax, credit union trade associations are once again calling for a congressional solution to a problem that has plagued consumers for years.

NAFCU CEO Dan Berger
NAFCU CEO Dan Berger Harrison McClary

“The massive breach at Equifax, and the report that they had known about it for weeks without notifying consumers, is yet another demonstration of the need for a legislative solution," said Dan Berger, president and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions.

Berger’s statement came after news Thursday that Equifax had been hacked, resulting in as many as 143 million U.S. consumers’ personal data being potentially compromised. Berger’s letter was addressed to Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI), and comes two days before NAFCU’s annual Congressional Caucus kicks off in Washington, where credit union leaders will meet with lawmakers about CU-related issues including data security.

Berger noted that CUs are required by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to follow federal standards on data security while retailers and other companies that hold consumer financial data are held to nothing, even after having “become the vulnerable targets of choice for cybercriminals.”

"Credit unions suffer steep losses in re-establishing member safety after a data breach occurs," he added. "They are often forced to absorb fraud-related losses, many of which stem from a negligent entity’s failure to protect sensitive financial and personal information in their systems. As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit union members are the ones that are ultimately impacted by these costs."

Ryan Donovan, chief advocacy officer at the Credit Union National Association
Ryan Donovan, chief advocacy officer at the Credit Union National Association

Leaders at the Credit Union National Association also lamented yet another consumer data breach, with Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan noting the group is “assessing the scope and breadth of the impact that [the Equifax breach] has on credit union members. A number of credit unions have reached out to us about how to communicate to their members about this breach, and we’re looking to get more information from Equifax and others.”

Donovan suggested that CU members reach out to Equifax or sign up for credit monitoring to see if they have been affected.

More information on how credit unions could be impacted by the Equifax breach can be found here and here.