General Assembly OKs bill banning fees for credit freezes
STATE HOUSE – With final votes in both chambers today, the General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne and Rep. Mia A. Ackerman to prohibit consumer reporting agencies from charging consumers a fee for a credit freeze.
The legislation (2018-S 2562, 2018-H 7604), which will now be sent to the governor, 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 the sponsors 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.
“If somebody suspects they have been victimized by identity theft, a consumer report security freeze can help the person track whether an identity thief is using information to set up bogus accounts,” said Representative Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln). “There’s no need to punish consumers who are choosing a path of credit security and financial responsibility. I think this is good pro-consumer legislation.”
Said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), “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. 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, “Passage of this legislation is a big victory for Rhode Island consumers, giving them greater control over who can access their personal and financial 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. I applaud the General Assembly for taking action to further protect the privacy of Rhode Islanders.”
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). House cosponsors include House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) and Rep. Brian C. Newberry (R-Dist. 48, North Smithfield, Burrillville).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903