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AG Derek Schmidt: Credit bureaus should halt fees for consumers impacted by Equifax breach

Release Date: Oct 11, 2017

TOPEKA – (October 11, 2017) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt yesterday asked two of the largest consumer reporting agencies to immediately stop charging fees to consumers who want to put in place security freezes in light of the Equifax data breach.

In a letter to Experian and TransUnion, Schmidt, along with the attorneys general of 35 other states and territories, urged the agencies to stop charging fees for security freezes and for lifting, or temporarily lifting, security freezes on consumers’ accounts. The Equifax data breach reported last month has so far affected over 145 million Americans – including an estimated 1.1 million Kansans. Equifax has already agreed to waive the fees for security freezes in light of its recent data breach. In addition, credit reporting agency Innovis has also recently announced that it will cease charging for security freeze placements, lifts and removals.

“Data breaches are unfortunately becoming more commonplace in our modern economy,” Schmidt said. “Kansans should not have to pay a fee to each consumer reporting agency to place a security freeze and another fee every time they want to apply for credit and temporarily lift the freeze. Consumers did not choose to have their information collected by the credit bureaus, so consumers should be able to protect themselves from potential identity theft without being required to pay the company not to share their personal information. Security freeze fees inhibit many consumers ability to act in a responsible manner.”

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.

In addition to today’s letter, Schmidt last month sent a letter to Equifax urging the company to reconsider some of their current practices in response to the breach. Among other things, the letter asked Equifax to cease marketing fee-based products; to extend the TrustedID Premier enrollment deadline; and to extend the hours to 24-hours-a-day and  to properly staff the call center. In response to the concerns, Equifax has ceased marketing subscription products for sale and is working on hiring and training more employees in their call center. The deadline to enroll in the free Equifax security freeze has been extended to January 31, 2018. That letter also asked Equifax to reimburse consumers for the cost of placing security freezes on their accounts with other credit bureaus as a result of the Equifax breach.

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

A copy of the letters is available at http://bit.ly/2y8NOG9.

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