Sen. Elizabeth Warren Introduces Bill That Would Make Credit Freezes Free

Image courtesy of (Karen Blaha)

In the wake of the the massive Equifax customer data breach, many consumers are wondering: Why, exactly, should we be paying the credit bureaus for credit freezes or monitoring when it was one of them that just lost all our personal data? Two U.S. Senators are wondering that, too, and have now introduced a bill to fix it.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) today introduced a bill that would prevent credit bureaus from charging people for freezing their records. In the grand tradition of government backronyms, the bill [PDF] is called the FREE Act, or Freedom from Equifax Exploitation Act. (Yes, that would actually be the FFEE Act. Maybe you’re supposed to squint a little.)

The bill’s purpose is simple: If passed, it would stop credit bureaus from charging consumers to place a freeze on their credit records to prevent identity theft.

The bill, if passed, would stop credit bureaus from charging for credit freezes at all.

“Credit reporting agencies like Equifax make billions of dollars collecting and selling personal data about consumers without their consent, and then make consumers pay if they want to stop the sharing of their own data,” Sen. Warren said in a statement. “Our bill gives consumers more control over their own personal data and prohibits companies like Equifax from charging consumers for freezing and unfreezing access to their credit files. Passing this bill is a first step toward reforming the broken credit reporting industry.”

In addition to this new legislation, Warren also introduced a bill that would prevent prospective employers from looking up the credit records of most job applicants. Credit records don’t actually show who is likely to be a good employee, and help keep people out of better jobs after they’ve had financial struggles.