Durbin Urges Equifax To Protect Consumers By Paying Credit Freeze Fees At The Other Major Credit Reporting Agencies
Durbin To Equifax: This unprecedented Equifax data breach requires providing cost-free credit freeze not just at Equifax, but at the other two major credit reporting agencies as well
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), in a letter to Equifax Interim Chief Executive Officer Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., called on the massive credit-reporting agency to assume fees incurred by consumers freezing, temporarily lifting, and unfreezing their credit reports at the two other major credit reporting agencies: Experian and TransUnion. Durbin also pressed Equifax to reimburse consumers who have already paid such fees since Equifax announced the massive breach of its cybersecurity.
Currently, residents of Illinois who want to place, temporarily lift, or remove a security freeze in the wake of this breach are subject to a $10 fee for each respective action at Experian and TransUnion.
In the letter, Durbin wrote, “Equifax should offer to pay all fees incurred by consumers for placing or removing a credit freeze at the other credit reporting agencies, and should reimburse consumers who have already paid such fees since the Equifax breach was announced. Enabling consumers to obtain a cost-free credit freeze across all credit reporting agencies is an essential next step to provide relief to the 145.5 million Americans, including 5.4 million residents of Illinois, who have seen their personal and financial identities compromised through no fault of their own as a result of Equifax’s breach.”
After Equifax made their data breach public last month, Durbin joined Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in pushing Equifax to completely end its use of forced arbitration agreements. Such agreements limit the ability of consumers to pursue justice in a public court of law or challenge widespread corporate wrongdoing. The Senators also called on Equifax to explain whether or not it supports a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to limit the use of forced arbitration in the financial services sector.
The full letter to interim CEO Barros Jr. is below or you can read it here.
October 4, 2017
Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr.
Interim Chief Executive Officer
1550 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Dear Mr. Barros:
I write to urge Equifax to provide consumers who may have had their personal and financial information compromised by the Equifax data breach with the ability to place or remove a credit freeze, without incurring fees, at all three major credit reporting agencies. Equifax should offer to pay all fees incurred by consumers for placing or removing a credit freeze at the other credit reporting agencies, and should reimburse consumers who have already paid such fees since the Equifax breach was announced. Enabling consumers to obtain a cost-free credit freeze across all credit reporting agencies is an essential next step to providing relief to the 145.5 million Americans, including 5.4 million residents of Illinois, who have seen their personal and financial identities compromised through no fault of their own as a result of Equifax’s breach. 
I understand that Equifax will begin implementing new measures to better assist consumers who may have been compromised by the breach, including extending the deadline for consumers to secure a freeze on their Equifax credit report at no cost, improving training for Equifax customer service representatives, and upgrading the company’s website. While these efforts represent a step in the right direction, consumers seeking to protect themselves from the harm this Equifax breach has caused are deeply frustrated that they are being charged fees for placing and removing a security freeze on their credit reports at the other credit reporting agencies, Experian and Transunion. In Illinois, residents who want to place, temporarily lift, or remove a security freeze in the wake of this breach are currently subject to a $10 fee for each respective action at the other two credit reporting agencies. At a time when one-third of consumers report already struggling to make ends meet, innocent Americans should not have to bear the burden of these additional fees; Equifax should.
In the past, Equifax’s record on protecting American consumers has been troubling. Since 2012, American consumers have registered over 65,000 complaints against Equifax with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This past January, Equifax was ordered to pay $3.8 million in restitution to consumers and $2.5 million in civil penalties for deceiving consumers about how lenders use credit scores while luring them into expensive recurring payments just for checking their own credit score, something current law already mandates customers receive at no cost. It also has been widely reported that Equifax initially tried to steer consumers victimized by the breach into contracts with forced arbitration clauses that would have denied them the chance to seek redress in court. Moreover, until last week, Equifax had been directing some consumers with questions to a fake website with no connection to the company.
I am encouraged by your acknowledgement that Equifax must change course and take immediate, meaningful steps to protect and assist American consumers who may have been harmed in the wake of this unprecedented data breach. This includes helping consumers protect their credit across all credit reporting agencies, not just Equifax. To this end, Equifax should pay the fees incurred by consumers who want to place or remove a security freeze on their credit report at the other major credit reporting agencies, including reimbursing those who have already paid such fees. Consumers deserve it, and with annual revenues exceeding $3.1 billion in 2016 and a net profit of $489 million, Equifax can afford it.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
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