New Law Bars Charging to Freeze Credit

Lawmakers in Olympia said yes Thursday to a consumer-protection bill designed to save money for hacking victims. Dan Frizzell from the Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more.

When the credit-reporting giant Equifax was repeatedly hacked last year, 145 million consumers learned that their personal financial data had fallen into the hands of potential identity thieves. The advice everyone heard was to put a freeze on their credit with the big three credit bureaus.  But consumers in Washington got a nasty surprise: State law allowed Equifax and the others to charge a ten-dollar fee to freeze their credit . . . and another ten to remove the freeze. That’s sixty dollars a head for something no one wanted and that wasn’t their fault.  Lawmakers in Olympia said “no more,” and put the final OK Thursday on a bill making those fees illegal.  Here’s Representative Kristine Reeves, the Federal Way Democrat who spoke in favor of the bill on the House floor.

REEVES: “You shouldn’t have to pay more to protect yourself and your credit when one of those three bureaus loses your consumer information. You shouldn’t have to pay ten dollars so that hackers in Russia don’t open up six different credit cards in your name.  This legislation is about doing what’s right for our constituents, for consumers.” 

Even with more than a dozen Republican lawmakers voting no, the bill passed handily and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee in the coming days.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.