Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt sent a letter along with 35 of his colleagues from across the country to Experian and TransUnion asking those agencies to stop charging fees for imposing and lifting security freezes on accounts.
“Equifax’s breach has caused problems that are making consumers incur costs from the other bureaus when they try to place a credit freeze or thaw a freeze on their account,” said Schmidt. “We previously asked Equifax to waive its fees for freezing and thawing accounts and it’s done so. Then, we asked Equifax to reimburse consumers the cost they paid to other credit bureaus to put freezes and thaws on. Now, we’ve asked the other bureaus to step up and even though they didn’t cause the problem, waive the fees that they’re charging to consumers that are trying to protect themselves after the Equifax breach.”
Consumers are on the short end of the stick and it’s the goal of the attorneys general to help however they can.
“The problem here was caused by Equifax,” said Schmidt. “At some point, Equifax will be held to account, once the investigation is complete and there’s a sense of what exactly the scope of error was on the company’s part that allowed this data breach to occur. In the meantime, literally millions of consumers, including more than a million Kansans are affected. Many are scrambling to figure out what steps they can take to protect themselves.”
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.
“We’re trying to get the companies, even the ones that didn’t do anything wrong, to step up here and say, consumers shouldn’t have to bear this cost,” said Schmidt. “We’ll waive the fees, in light of this extraordinary circumstance and allow consumers that want to, to place a security freeze on their accounts and lift those freezes when needed, without charge.”
Consumers can find more information about how to protect themselves from data breaches at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.