Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette Wednesday joined a bipartisan coalition of 36 state and the District of Columbia attorneys general to urge the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) Experian and TransUnion to immediately stop charging fees to consumers placing credit freezes on their accounts as a result of the Equifax data breach. The breach reported last month has so far affected over 145 million Americans, including more than 4.6 million Michigan residents.
In a letter sent yesterday evening, Schuette along with the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general asked the CRAs to stop charging fees for both credit freezes and fees to lift or temporarily lift credit freezes on consumer’s accounts.
“The size and scope of this data breach is massive and worrying about stolen information is more than enough for residents to deal with,” said Schuette. “Adding in a $10 fee to each CRA to place a credit freeze plus another $10 fee every single time the need to temporarily lift the freeze when applying for credit is not only cumbersome but can get expensive. This letter asks these companies to help consumers protect themselves and their credit in the wake of the Equifax breach with as little cost as possible.”
What to Watch for Post Breech
In addition to placing a credit freeze on all of your credit reports, the following tips are offered so consumers can take to safeguard against identity theft:
- Regularly request your free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
- Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
- Consider placing alerts on your financial accounts so your financial institution alerts you when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
- Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
- Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.
Credit Freeze; Fraud Alert; and Credit Monitoring Alert
Schuette’s consumer protection team has also released a consumer alert titled “Credit Freeze; Fraud Alert; & Credit Monitoring,” which walks consumers through their options for securing their information post breach and answers frequently asked questions consumers have, including the following:
- Do I have to freeze my credit with all three credit agencies?
- Is there a difference between a security freeze and a credit lock?
- Do I have to pay for a fraud alert?
- How can I make the most of credit monitoring?
How to check if your information was breached
Go to Equifax’s Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information website to see if your information has been impacted.
You can also read Equifax’s FAQ for Consumers; Progress Updates for Consumers; and Notice of Data Breach to keep up on the latest announcements from Equifax.