Washington, DC – “It is outrageous that the credit bureaus charge us fees to prevent identity theft when we didn’t even give them permission to collect our information in the first place.
The Freedom from Equifax Exploitation (FREE) Act introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Senator Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and other Senators would finally correct this wrong and make credit freezes free to all consumers. Congress should pass the FREE Act immediately.
The best way to protect all consumers from new account identity theft would be a universal credit freeze that blocks access to credit reports by default. But making them free to all who take the step to opt-in to get freezes would be a big win for consumers.
We’re recommending that consumers get credit freezes with all three credit bureaus. We’ve called on Equifax to pay for all those freezes, but consumers shouldn’t wait for that. We know that the credit bureaus’ systems to request freezes have been crashing, but people should keep trying to get them.
Credit freezes are currently only free in seven states (about to be eight in October). We are working to make them free in other places like Illinois and Massachusetts where state bills have been introduced. Regardless, only the freeze, not the credit monitoring products offered by Equifax and other firms that have been breached, protects your credit report from misuse.
Congress should lead and make credit freezes free for everyone in the country and pass the FREE Act immediately.
Our consumer tips and FAQ about the Equifax breach, including a how-to for getting credit freezes, are available here: http://www.uspirg.org/blogs/blog/usp/consumer-tips-and-faq-about-equifax-breach
U.S. PIRG is the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that stand up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. On the web at www.uspirg.org.