SC Attorney General Wilson asks Equifax to disable fee-based monitoring, reimburse fees after breach

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — September 18, 2017 South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson joined a bipartisan group of attorneys general from 33 other states and the District of Columbia in urging credit reporting firm Equifax to stop pushing its own fee-based credit monitoring service after the massive data breach affecting 143 million people. In a letter to the company, they’re asking Equifax to disable links for enrollment in its fee-based monitoring. They’re also asking Equifax to reimburse consumers who incur fees to freeze their credit.

The states launched an investigation as soon as Equifax publicly disclosed the breach September 7th.

“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 people of South Carolina are angry about this breach and the potential for identity theft,” Attorney General Wilson said. “For Equifax to give the impression that it’s trying to make a profit off of its own breach makes them even angrier, and understandably so.”

The personal information of more than 2,366,000 South Carolinians was compromised in the breach.

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 South Carolina 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.

In a letter 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.

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office continues to work on this issue and suggests that consumers who may be affected get more information from the SC Department of Consumer Affairs’ identity theft unit on steps you should take to protect yourself.

You can read the letter to Equifax from the attorneys general here.

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