Monopoly man crashes ex-Equifax CEO's Senate hearing

Rich Uncle Moneybags was in da house ... erm, senate.
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Rich Uncle Pennybags appeared at the Equifax hearing in Congress on Wednesday, and the Monopoly man was also spotted sitting behind him.

The monocled, mustachioed and top hat-wearing activist could be seen in the background as former Equifax CEO Richard Smith appeared before senators.

The stunt was pulled by Public Citizen, which confirmed on Twitter it sent its arbitration campaign manager, Amanda Werner, dressed as the Monopoly man to the hearing.

Smith recently quit as CEO of Equifax after revealing the credit reporting bureau had suffered a data breach compromising the personal information of 145.5 million Americans.

The message from Public Citizen, "forced arbitration gives Equifax a monopoly over our justice system," is a nod to the possibility that people who sign up for Equifax's own protection products after the breach could be signing away certain rights to sue the company in the future.

Related: 

The Tip Jar: Should you accept Equifax's offer of free credit report locking?

Smith was appearing before the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee where he apologized for the breach, saying: "I'm truly and deeply sorry for what happened," NPR reports.

He blamed the breach on "human error and technology errors," but was subjected to a serious grilling by senators.

Senate panel hammers Equifax

One of the criticisms leveled at Smith came from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said Equifax stands to make money from the breach by signing victims up to its credit monitoring product, Money.com reports.

Equifax is offering the product free for a year, but after that a $17-a-month payment kicks in, and so far 7.5 million people have signed up for it.

The company also earns money off a business relationship in place with LifeLock, which also sells credit monitoring services provided by Equifax itself.

GoMN's Tip Jar column suggests a state law-backed "credit freeze" is the surest way of protecting yourself from ID thieves in the wake of the Equifax breach. You can find out more details here.

Republican senator Ben Sasse meanwhile questioned why Equifax deserves a $7.25 million IRS contract it was recently awarded to prevent fraud, the Washington Post reports.

Fellow Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy said it was akin to "giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to the mini bar."

The newspaper notes that under Smith's watch Equifax was transformed from a simple credit rating company into a "massive data manager" employing artificial intelligence and algorithm-led computing to determine who banks can lend money to.

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