OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter today signed a letter, along with a coalition of 34 attorneys general, to Equifax citing several concerns and listing recommendations to better assist consumers.
In the letter, attorneys general asked Equifax to address the concerns promptly to ensure victims of the breach are treated fairly and Equifax isn’t using the incident as an opportunity to profit off victims.
The letter comes after Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies, announced a data breach on Sept. 7, impacting 143 million people.
Attorney General Hunter said the breach has left individuals feeling vulnerable and the company should be doing more to conciliate consumers.
“We are deeply concerned for families and residents across the United States,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The letter’s recommendations arewhat the attorneys general and I believe will ensure citizens will be treated fairly and give them more clarity as they navigate this dilemma. Consumers were left exposed by the breach and are at no fault whatsoever. More needs to be done to assist the victims.”
Concerns included in the letter are: the company continuing to promote its fee-based monitoring program; consumers paying fees for a security freeze; and long wait times or the inability to speak with someone at the call center.
Although Equifax is offering a free credit monitoring service in response to the breach, a main concern is the company still selling a fee-based monitoring program.
In the letter, attorneys general wrote, in part, “We object to Equifax seemingly using its own data breach as an opportunity to sell services to breach victims. 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. Equifax cannot reap benefits from confused consumers who are likely only visiting Equifax’s homepage because they are concerned about whether the breach affects them and their families.”
The attorneys general suggest Equifax upgrading its free credit monitoring service to provide equivalent protection as its fee-based services.
The letter also says, although Equifax is not charging consumers a fee for its own security freeze service, consumers are still being forced to pay for freezes with other companies.
“We agree with these consumers that it is indefensible that they be forced to pay fees to fully protect themselves from the fallout of Equifax’s data breach. Accordingly, we believe Equifax should be taking steps to reimburse consumers who incur fees to completely freeze their credit,” the letter reads.
To remedy consumers long wait times and inability to reach assistance through the call center, attorneys general recommend Equifax operating the hotline 24 hours a day and hiring more staff to ensure shorter wait times.
In addition to Oklahoma, the following states and territories signed the letter: Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland, Mississippi, Minnesota, Nebraska, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia.