AG Mills asks Equifax to disable fee-based monitoring services and to reimburse fees for security freezes

September 15, 2017


CONTACT: Andrew Roth-Wells
Telephone: (207) 626-8887

AG Mills asks Equifax to disable fee-based monitoring services and to reimburse fees for security freezes

AUGUSTA ??Attorney General Janet T. Mills joined a bipartisan group of attorneys general in writing to request Equifax remove links to its fee based credit marketing service and offer only free credit checks, in the wake of the massive data breach impacting 143 million people.

The Maine office of the Attorney General began investigating Equifax on September 8, 2017, when the firm announced that 143 million consumers, including over 500,000 in Maine, were exposed to potential identity theft through a data breach. Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services in response to the breach, but the attorneys general object to Equifax "seemingly using its own data breach as an opportunity to sell services to breach victims," they wrote.

"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 in states were such charges are allowed. The attorneys general said that Equifax should be taking steps to reimburse consumers who incur these fees to completely freeze their credit.

"Hundreds of consumers are calling my Consumer Protection Division and the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection frustrated and confused after calling Equifax to protect themselves,? said Mills. ?Through no fault of their own they are being exposed to identity theft. They shouldn?t have to pay the company at fault to freeze their credit or get protection. Thankfully Maine law prohibits charging consumers for credit freezes.?

Maine consumers have the right to place a free file freeze on their credit reports with each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. You can also freeze your credit report files by visiting the credit reporting agencies? secure websites, or by making your request in writing to each agency. Maine consumers who are charged for file freezes by any credit reporting agency are encouraged to contact the Attorney General?s Consumer Protection Division ( 207-626-8849 or toll-free at 1-800-436-2131) and the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection (1-800-DEBT-LAW or 1-800-332-8529).

?Maine and numerous other states commenced investigations into Equifax last Friday,? stated Mills. ?We are going to get to the bottom of the who, what and why of the enormous leak of private information from one of the nation's largest credit agencies. We are intent on helping Maine citizens protect their privacy and their personal financial information.?

Supporting documents

AG letter to Equifax