Bill to help Washington state victims of credit report data breaches to get hearing in Olympia
January 17, 2018
CLICK TO ENLARGE. State Rep. Carolyn Eslick (R-Sultan) of 39th District. Photo: House Republicans.
(OLYMPIA, WA.) -- A bill (HB 2277) introduced by 39th District state Rep. Carolyn Eslick, R-Sultan, that would help consumers facing credit report data breaches is scheduled for a public hearing in the state House Committee on Business and Financial Services, today, Wednesday, Jan.17.
Eslick's bill would allow victims of a data breach to place up to three credit freezes and three lifts on their credit per calendar year, free of charge, at each credit reporting agency.
“Data breaches seem to be the new normal. More and more consumers are finding they need to be proactive in protecting their data,” said Eslick. “With the recent data breach at Equifax, millions of American consumers had their data compromised. Placing a credit freeze makes it harder for thieves to open an account.”
Eslick says after the major Equifax breach, it became clear it’s up to consumers to be on guard against data thieves and she thinks it should be easier, not harder, for consumers to get help in that area.
“The other credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Experian, charge a $10 fee for every credit freeze and then the same amount for any lift of that freeze. When you add it up, at $10 a transaction, that’s a lot of money,” says Eslick who adds that for people who fall victim to a data breach they have no control over, paying those fees "is like an additional slap in the face. They should be able to protect their information for free.”
Currently in Washington state, consumer reporting agencies may charge a fee to place, lift, or remove a security freeze. A freeze restricts access to a consumer’s credit report. Although it does not protect existing accounts, it does prevent potential lenders from accessing a consumer’s credit report. This stops thieves from opening a new account or line of credit.
With each “freeze” a Personal Identification Number (PIN) is given for the consumer to use when they are ready to “lift” the freeze.
House Bill 2277 would also allow all consumers, not just victims of a data breach, to place one credit freeze and one lift per calendar year. The yearly service would be free of charge at each credit reporting agency.
Victims of identity theft, with proof of the theft, would be limited to three freezes and lifts per year. All other credit freeze activities would fall under the existing $10 fee.
The 2018 legislative session began Jan. 8 and is scheduled for 60 consecutive days.