Consumer News

AG Derek Schmidt: Equifax should reimburse consumers for security freezes

Release Date: Sep 15, 2017

TOPEKA – (September 15, 2017) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today asked Equifax to bear the cost of obtaining security freezes at all three credit reporting bureaus for consumers affected by the massive Equifax data breach.

In a letter to Equifax, Schmidt, along with the attorneys general of 31 other states and territories, expressed approval of the decision by Equifax to waive the fee for its own service of placing a security freeze on affected consumers’ accounts but said that it not enough. They said Equifax also should pay the cost for consumers to freeze their credit at the other credit bureaus.

“Although Equifax is not charging consumers a fee for its own security freeze service, these consumers are furious that they have been forced to pay for a security freeze with other companies, such as Experian and TransUnion, when this privacy breach was no fault of their own,” the attorneys general wrote. “We agree with these consumers that it is indefensible that they be forced to pay fees to fully protect themselves from the fallout of Equifax’s data breach.  Accordingly, we believe Equifax should be taking steps to reimburse consumers who incur fees to completely freeze their credit.”

The attorneys general also expressed concern about the confusion caused by the company’s response to date to the data breach. Among their criticisms of the company’s response is concern that Equifax continues to market its fee-based services to consumers affected by the breach.

A security freeze prohibits access to a consumer’s credit report without express, case-by-case permission from the consumer, thus making it difficult for identity thieves and others to open unauthorized credit in the consumer’s name. Although identity theft victims can obtain a free security freeze on their credit reports, under Kansas law people who are not the victim of identity theft may be charged by each credit bureau a fee between $5-$10 for placing a freeze.

The attorneys general also have had communications with Equifax expressing concerns about terms of service relative to the free credit monitoring services and the prominence of service enrollment information on Equifax’s web page. Equifax was responsive to these concerns.

Consumers can find more information about how to protect themselves from data breaches at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.

A copy of the letter is available at http://bit.ly/2ycLUBI.

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