CONCORD, NH – Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announces that his office has joined with attorneys general from around the country in signing a letter to credit reporting firm Equifax requesting that it disable links for enrollment in fee-based credit monitoring service in the wake of the massive data breach impacting 143 million people.
Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services in response to the breach, but the attorneys
general objected to Equifax “seemingly using its own data breach as an opportunity to sell
services to breach victims,” they wrote. “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 credit freeze fees for those who would otherwise be subject to them – which includes New Hampshire residents – the other two credit bureaus, Experian and Transunion, continue to charge fees for security freezes.
The attorneys general said that Equifax should be taking steps to reimburse consumers who incur these fees to completely freeze their credit.
“Consumers are understandably angry and upset about this breach, and their feelings are entirely warranted given the extremely sensitive nature of the compromised information,” said Attorney General MacDonald. “This breach has also caused considerable confusion, which could lead breach victims, who are already vulnerable, to inadvertently sign up for a costly program instead of the free service. Additionally, consumers, who are at absolutely no fault in this situation, should not have to pay anyone to completely freeze their credit.”
Attorney General MacDonald continued, “Equifax should not give even the impression that it is
attempting to make any sort of profit off of this enormous breach, and consumers should have
access – at zero cost – to the best available credit monitoring services and protections.”
In a letter sent to Equifax last Friday, 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.
“As soon as this breach was disclosed, my office began looking into the facts and circumstances of the breach and have been working with other states,” said Attorney General MacDonald.
“While our investigation is ongoing, consumers can take steps to monitor their credit reports and their bank accounts and credit card statements, and report any suspicious activity immediately.”
Please copy of letter below: