With the recent data breach at Equifax and the increased need for consumers to have greater control in protecting their identity from hackers, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today announced his intention to file legislation that would prohibit credit bureaus from charging all Rhode Island consumers fees to place, temporarily lift, or remove security freezes on their accounts.
Under current law (RIGL 6-48), A consumer may be charged a fee of no more than ten dollars ($10.00) for any security freeze services, including, but not limited to, the placement, temporary lifting, and permanent removal of a security freeze.
The consumer may not be charged for a one-time reissue of a new personal identification number; provided, however, the consumer may be charged not more than five dollars ($5.00) for subsequent instances of loss of the personal identification number.
However, a consumer reporting agency may not charge any fee to a victim of identity theft who has submitted a copy of an incident report from, or a complaint to, a law enforcement agency or to a consumer who is of sixty-five (65) years of age or older.
Kilmartin's legislation would remove all costs for consumers to place, temporarily halt, or remove a security freeze, no matter age of consumer or if the consumer was a victim of identity theft.
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.
"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. 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," said Kilmartin.
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 quickly reversed course after pressure by attorneys general and consumers nationwide. While placing a credit freeze is currently free with Equifax for those affected by the data breach, the other credit bureaus – TransUnion and Experian – continue to charge consumers the credit freeze fees.