JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has joined dozens of other attorney generals in requesting credit reporting firm Equifax to disable links for enrollment in fee-based credit monitoring services.
The multi-state investigation was launched into Equifax after the firm’s massive data breach. The breach impacts 143 million people.
Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services in response to the breach, and a letter sent to Equifax by this group of attorneys general objects to the inclusion of terms of service that required consumers to waive their rights, the offer of competing fee-based and free credit monitoring services by Equifax, and Equifax’s charge for a security freeze with other credit monitoring companies like Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis.
“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.
General Hood reminds consumers to be diligent by watching their bank accounts and credit card statements.
“It’s important to not just watch your accounts now, while this breach is in the news, but to continue to monitor them months from now for potential impact down the road,” said General Hood. “We cannot assume things are safe anymore. We must do our part as consumers to be sure our personal information is secure.”
General Hood urges consumers to:
- Report any suspicious activity to your bank or credit card company right away. Any delay in reporting the fraudulent activity could make it harder for you to get that money back.
- Check your credit report periodically and be sure to dispute any information that is not accurate.
- Put a credit freeze on your credit report. A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report, which makes it much more difficult for criminals to open false accounts in your name. However, placing such a freeze should be considered carefully since the lead time needed to unfreeze it may be significant.
- Consider two-factor authentication when using financial services online. For most two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, users receive a security code via their phone or mobile device that must be entered in addition to a password.
- Avoid unsolicited emails that seek even more personal information or financial data. Following a large-scale data breach, scammers may attempt to steal a consumer’s identity or access bank accounts by sending out fake notices.
For more information about data breaches, identity theft or other consumer issues, visit www.AGJimHood.com or call (800) 281-4418.