Connecticut’s attorney general, and others investigating Equifax Inc’s data breach on Friday asked the company to disable links for enrollment in fee-based credit monitoring service in the wake of the massive data breach impacting 143 million people.
Connecticut is co-leading the states’ investigation with the attorneys general from Illinois, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia; the investigation was launched as soon as Equifax publicly disclosed the breach last week.
Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services in response to the breach, but the attorneys general objected to Equifax “seemingly using its own data breach as an opportunity to sell services to breach victims,” they wrote in a letter to Equifax.
“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 – which includes Connecticut residents – 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.
“Consumers are understandably angry and upset about this breach, and their feelings are entirely warranted given the extremely sensitive nature of the compromised information,” said Attorney General Jepsen.
“This breach has also caused considerable confusion, which could lead breach victims, who are already vulnerable, to inadvertently sign up for a costly program instead of the free service. Additionally, consumers, who are at absolutely no fault in this situation, should not have to pay anyone to completely freeze their credit.”