During the run-up to the holidays, I almost missed this news item. It received coverage by news organizations in the State of Indiana, but lesser coverage elsewhere. According to the ConsumerAffairs.com site:
"Equifax Information Services has agreed to pay $65,000 to resolve allegations that the company failed to comply with Indiana's security/credit freeze law.... Attorney General Steve Carter obtained a consent judgment after charging that the credit agency failed to place security freezes and failed to issue freeze confirmations and unique personal identification numbers to Indiana consumers within the timeframes as defined by state law."
Basically, Equifax did not admit any guilt, and paid the fine since it violated state law. Hence, the word "allegation" was used above.
In Indiana, credit-reporting agencies are supposed to place a credit-report freeze within 5 business days of receiving a consumer's letter. According to Carter's allegations, Equifax didn't do that fast enough for 19 consumers, including a two-month delay for one consumer. In Indiana, credit reporting agencies are also required to notify consumers within 10 business days that their credit reports have been frozen. According to Carter, Equifax failed to do that for 24 consumers, and it took 6 months to notify one consumer.
It's good to see a state's attorney general looking out for the needs of consumers by monitoring compliance to Security Freeze laws. Most state have Security Freeze laws, and I wonder how many other states are monitoring compliance:
"It is believed that the Indiana Attorney General's Office is the first to enforce the consumer credit freeze statute against one of the three national credit-reporting agencies."
Attorney General Carter summed up the situation well:
"This law was enacted to give consumers a layer of protection against identity theft and other forms of personal identity fraud... The freeze doesn't provide the protections it was designed to give our citizens when the required timeframes and other requirements of the law are not followed."
I have a freeze on my credit reports and I encourage consumers to do the same, especially if your sensitive personal data has been exposed during a corporate data breach. But note, a Security Freeze is not a cure-all. And, read this review if you are considering Equifax's "3-in-1" credit monitoring service.