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In response to Equifax breach, consumer advocates support legislation to make credit freezes free for Illinois residents
Chicago-- Consumer advocates praised the introduction of House Bill 4095, legislation to make credit freezes free for all Illinois residents, sponsored by Representative Greg Harris and championed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Senator Biss has filed companion legislation in the Senate, Senate Bill 2230.
In response to the Equifax data breach, which has placed over 140 million Americans at risk for various forms of identity theft, consumer advocates and Attorney Generals have advised consumers to seriously consider placing a credit freeze with all three credit bureaus. A credit freeze is the only real tool consumers have to stop new account identity theft.
“We applaud Attorney General Madigan, Representative Harris, and Senator Biss for responding quickly with legislation to protect Illinois consumers,” said Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG director. “There is no reason why consumers should be charged a fee to place a credit freeze on their sensitive personal information. We look forward to working with legislators from both parties to ensure Illinois residents have free access to this critical tool to protect their financial well-being.”
Illinois residents currently have to pay a fee to access this basic security feature. State law provides exemptions for residents 65 or older, active duty service members, and victims of identity theft with a police report. HB4095 and SB2230 would allow all Illinois residents to place a freeze on their credit reports, or lift an existing freeze, for free.
Joining Illinois PIRG in supporting the legislation are Center for Changing Lives, Citizen Action Illinois, Digital Privacy Alliance, Heartland Alliance, Navicore Solutions, and Woodstock Institute.
"Given recent data breaches, there has never been a more critical time for this legislation," says Jody Blaylock, Senior Policy Associate with Heartland Alliance. “We must ensure that people, especially those experiencing poverty, can protect their credit and continue to build financial security."
Seven states have laws making credit freezes free, including Indiana. Illinois PIRG has this guide for consumers interested in placing a credit freeze with all three credit bureaus.
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