General Assembly passes bill banning fees for credit freezes

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY has approved legislation that would prohibit consumer reporting agencies from charging consumers a fee for a credit freeze. / PBN FILE PHOTO/NICOLE DOTZENROD

PROVIDENCE – The General Assembly has approved legislation to prohibit consumer reporting agencies from charging consumers a fee for a credit freeze.

The legislation (2018-S 2562, 2018-H 7604), eliminates a provision of existing law that allows reporting agencies to charge up to $10 to consumers who ask for a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze. Such a freeze prohibits a reporting agency from giving personal credit information to any third-party creditor. Current law prohibits the fee only when the consumer has been a victim of identity fraud or is over age 65.

The legislation stems from the Equifax security breach in 2017 during which the credit information of 143 million Americans was exposed. Initially, Equifax was charging consumers who asked for a credit freeze to protect themselves from Equifax’s own security breach, although it stopped after public outcry.

Rep. Mia A. Ackerman, D-Cumberland, a co-sponsor of the bill, said, “There’s no need to punish consumers who are choosing a path of credit security and financial responsibility. I think this is good pro-consumer legislation.”

- Advertisement -

Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne, D-Barrington, also a co-sponsor, added, “Your credit information belongs to you, not the credit reporting agencies. Consumers should have the right to take control of their credit information, without a fee, when they are concerned about security.”

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin called the legislation “a big victory for Rhode Island consumers.”

The bill now goes to the governor’s office for her signature.

Mary Lhowe is a PBN contributing writer.