Herring urges Equifax to disable fee-based monitoring services

Attorney General Mark R. Herring joined a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general in urging credit reporting firm Equifax to stop pushing their own fee based services on data breach victims, and to create a more transparent, user-friendly service for victims in the wake of the massive data breach impacting 143 million people, including more than four million in Virginia.

mark herring“More than 4 million Virginians may be impacted by the Equifax data breach, and these consumers are understandably angry, upset, and confused about the possibility of extremely sensitive data being compromised,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “At a time when they should be helping their customers however they can, 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. I will continue to keep Virginians updated and protect their rights as consumers as the Equifax situation continues to develop.”

Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services in response to the breach, but the attorneys general today 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 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.

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.

Joining Attorney General Herring in sending the letter are state attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Hawaii’s Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection.