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Equifax urged to reimburse consumers for the costs of filing credit freezes.
BISMARCK, ND - Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem today joined with other Attorneys General from across the country in a letter to Equifax expressing serious concerns about the way it is responding to consumers in the wake of the massive data breach affecting 143 million people.
“Citizens are reporting long wait times at the Equifax website as well as its toll free hotline, often getting nothing but busy signals, and they are understandably frustrated and angry,” Stenehjem said.
The Attorneys General urged Equifax to make its website less confusing so consumers can easily find the customer service number and necessary information, add customer service staff and make the hotline number available 24 hours a day to decrease the wait time, and to disable links for its fee-based credit monitoring service.
"We believe continuing to offer consumers a fee-based service in addition to Equifax's free monitoring services will serve to only confuse consumers who are already struggling to make decisions on how to best protect themselves in the wake of this massive breach," the Attorneys General wrote. "Selling a fee-based product that competes with Equifax's own free offer of credit monitoring services to victims of Equifax's own data breach is unfair, particularly if consumers are not sure if their information was compromised."
The Attorneys General also said that although Equifax has agreed to waive its credit freeze fees, the other two credit agencies, Experian and Transunion, continue to charge fees for security freezes. For North Dakota residents, the fee is $5. The Attorneys General said that Equifax should be taking steps to reimburse consumers who incur these fees to completely freeze their credit.
“Consumers are at no fault for this massive security breach and should not have to pay anyone to completely freeze their credit,” said Stenehjem.
The Attorneys General launched an investigation as soon as Equifax publicly disclosed the breach. In a communication sent to Equifax last week, the attorneys general requested information about the circumstances that led to the breach, the reasons for the months-long delay between the breach and the company’s public disclosure, what protections the company had in place at the time of the breach and how the company intends to protect consumers affected by the breach.
The attorneys general have also had communications with Equifax expressing concerns about terms of service relative to the free credit monitoring services and the prominence of service enrollment information on Equifax's Web page. Equifax was responsive to these concerns.
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Find out how to file a Credit Security Freeze.