For Immediate Release
U.S. PIRG Statement: Congress Should Pass FREE Act to Help Consumers after Equifax Breach
Statement by Mike Litt at U.S. PIRG, on the introduction of legislation making credit freezes free.
WASHINGTON - “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.
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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
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U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.