Equifax’s data breach has impacted millions, and the company is facing a lot of backlash. Identity theft protection is become incredibly important to consumers, so a handful of Senators, led by Elizabeth Warren, introduced a bill that would allow consumers to freeze their credit at any time for free.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Senate is set to approve a broader banking bill that stipulation. Right now, eight states and Washington DC require credit-reporting agencies like TransUnion, Experian and Equifax to provide consumers with credit freezes at no cost to the consumer, but other 42 states allow these companies to charge a fee for credit freezes, in most cases. This bill, on track to be approved by the Senate next week, will allow consumers across the country to request a credit freeze without having to pay any fees.
Under the proposal law, credit-reporting agencies will have to enact a credit freeze within three days of a consume requesting one and would have to unfreeze their credit within an hour, if requested to do so electronically. If the unfreeze is requested by mail, companies have three days to process the request.
Critics of this bill are worried that by allowing the federal government to implement this will, it will prevent states from enacting stricter regulations moving forward. It’s stopping the states from doing anything better in the future, and that’s a problem,” Mike Litt, a director at consumer-rights group US PIRG, told the Wall Street Journal. When we talk about stricter requirements, we mean, for example, making credit freezes default rather than having to opt into it.
Equifax’s data breach affected 143 million consumers and the investigation is still ongoing. In addition, we learned last week that the company announced an additional 2.4 million people that were affected by the breach. The company said that due to their initial parameters, the 2.4 million people weren’t seen right away. As of right now, CFPB is still investing the breach, per SEC filing last week.