The Rhode Island Attorney General is taking aim at credit bureaus with legislation designed to bring an end to credit freezes in the wake of the recent data breach at Equifax.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin on Monday announced his intent to file the new legislation, which would provide protection for consumers by prohibiting credit bureaus from charging any Rhode Island consumers a fee to place, temporarily lift, or remove security freezes on their accounts. The protections under the law apply regardless of age or whether the consumer is victim of identity theft.
“It’s safe to assume that at some point or another, every person’s information has been compromised through a data breach or something more criminal, making it more important than ever for consumers to exert greater control over their own personal information,” Kilmartin said.
“Credit bureaus make money from selling our personal information to third parties. They should not be able to profit off consumers who decide to take control over who has access to their personal data,” he said.
Commonly referred to as a “credit freeze,” a security freeze, in most cases, prohibits a consumer reporting agency from giving your credit information to a third-party creditor. A security freeze is more effective than a fraud alert in preventing unauthorized persons from obtaining credit in your name.
The issue of costs associated with security freezes came to light after the massive Equifax data breach, where the company initially charged consumers who were impacted by the breach to place a credit freeze with Equifax. The company reversed course and placing a credit freeze is currently free with Equifax for those affected by the data breach, TransUnion and Experian continue to charge consumers for such services.
– Jason Vallee