Equifax bows to public pressure, drops fees for credit freeze
Following word of massive data breach by hackers
September 13, 2017
(NATIONAL) -- After howls of protest from Americans over the announcement by credit giant Equifax that hackers had breached its system and with that, obtained access to some 143 million social security numbers, names, birth dates and other information, on Tuesday the company said it would waive all fees until Nov. 21 for people who want to freeze their Equifax credit files.
With data breach at Equifax, it's possible thieves might try to obtain new credit cards in the names of consumers who had their private information compromised.
Equifax also said it will refund any fees that anyone has paid since Thursday.
Before that announcement Tuesday, many of the people who tried to set up freezes after Equifax disclosed the breach by hackers, found out they actually had to then "pay Equifax for the privilege of protecting themselves from the breach," as a report in the New York Times put it.
As a result, they were not happy campers. As The Times report put it so aptly:
"It’s a logical reaction: You did not ask Equifax to vacuum up data about you, and then resell it to marketers and loan sellers. And it is not your fault that the company could not keep that data safe. So why should you pay for a freeze, which keeps new creditors from seeing your credit file and thus can keep thieves from applying for credit in your name?
Somehow, that question did not occur to Equifax on Thursday, when it first announced the breach. It apparently thought a year of free credit monitoring would be enough to placate consumers. When I asked Equifax on Sunday why it was not making freezes free, Wyatt Jefferies, a spokesman, did not respond to that particular question."
Ron Lieber the reporter who wrote the story says he also asked Equifax a number of other questions and he's still waiting for the answers. Questions like:
1. Will temporarily lifting a freeze also be free until Nov. 21, or just placing a freeze?
2. Why not make freezes and the lifting of those freezes free permanently for everyone?
3. Failing that, why not make freezes and thaws free permanently for everyone whose data was stolen in this instance or, for that matter, anytime in the future?
4. Why not pay Experian and TransUnion, the two other large consumer-credit reporting agencies, to freeze the credit files connected to every victim of the most recent Equifax breach? After all, that breach makes people vulnerable to thieves who apply for credit in victims’ names with lenders who check applicants’ credit histories only with Experian or TransUnion.
It's a good piece. Read it here