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5/31/2018 Senate OKs Coyne bill prohibiting fees for credit freezes
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne to prohibit consumer reporting agencies from charging consumers a fee for a credit freeze.

The legislation (2018-S 2562) eliminates a provision of existing law that allows reporting agencies to charge up to $10 to consumers who ask for a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, that prohibits a reporting agency from giving their personal credit information to any third-party creditor. Current law prohibits the fee only when the consumer has been a victim of identity fraud or is over 65.

The legislation, which Senator Coyne introduced on behalf of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, stems from the Equifax security breach last year during which the credit info of 143 million Americans was exposed. Initially, Equifax was charging consumers who asked for a credit freeze to protect themselves from its own security breach, although it stopped after public outcry and pressure from numerous attorneys general.

“Your credit information belongs to you, not the credit reporting agencies. When you ask them to stop giving it out to other parties because of a security concern like identity theft or a data breach, you shouldn’t have to pay them. They profit from charging those parties for that information, but that doesn’t mean you owe them anything if you tell them to stop because their providing it would put you at risk for fraud,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence). “Consumers should have the right to take control of their credit information, without a fee, when they are concerned about security.”

Said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, “It’s safe to assume that at some point or another, every person’s information has been compromised through a data breach or something more criminal, making it more important than ever for consumers to exert greater control over their own personal information. Credit bureaus make money from selling our personal information to third parties. They should not be able to profit off consumers who decide to take control over who has access to their personal data. This is an important consumer protection measure, and I applaud the Senate for taking action to further protect the privacy of Rhode Islanders.”

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, which has passed similar legislation (2018-H 7604) sponsored by Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln).  Cosponsors of the Senate bill include Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton), Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Little Compton, Tiverton), Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) and Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923