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Protecting your financial identity shouldn’t cost you when others are at fault

REUTERS/Tami Chappell
Equifax and other data reporting companies use the private financial records of virtually every American for their profits, yet they clearly do not do enough to protect your privacy.

The Equifax data breach last summer exposed the Social Security numbers of almost half of all Americans. The full impact of the data theft may not be clear for many years yet, but the exposure of Social Security numbers can cause long-term problems related to identity theft.

Sen. John Marty

Equifax and other data reporting companies use the private financial records of virtually every American for their profits, yet they clearly do not do enough to protect your privacy. One data expert told reporters at Mother Jones magazine that he had alerted Equifax to the data vulnerability issue months earlier and warned them to fix the problem. “It should’ve been fixed the moment it was found. It would have taken them five minutes, they could’ve just taken the site down,” the data expert said. Equifax ignored the warnings and failed to address the problem.

After the breach, consumers were urged to take action to prevent the stolen data from being used to open credit cards in their name. But many people are not aware that their data was hacked, and people are busy with their lives and don’t have the time or know-how to protect themselves.

On top of that lack of awareness of the problem, consumers must pay to protect their financial records. The three main credit reporting companies charge consumers for freezing their credit, and charge again for lifting or removing the freeze. While Equifax has temporarily removed its fee, there is no protection against it charging in the future.

Your financial data belongs to you, not the credit bureaus. You should not be required to pay a fee to protect your financial data from data thieves, especially when those credit reporting agencies are the ones who compromise your financial security.

As a result, I am introducing legislation to impose a ban on fees for freezing your credit records. A handful of other states ban these fees, but Minnesota does not.

These companies collect very personal financial data, but are not looking out for the best interests of the people whose information they control. Minnesotans should not face financial obstacles to protecting their personal credit information.

Here is a brief interview from Capitol Report discussing the need to ban fees on credit freezes in Minnesota. Here is a link to Federal Trade Commission information on credit freezes and other options for protecting your financial data.

John Marty, DFL-Roseville, is a state senator. He first published this article in his newsletter, “To the Point!” which is published by the Apple Pie Alliance.


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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/21/2018 - 12:17 pm.

    Tailor Made

    This issue is tailor made for the DFL. They should own this issue, fight for it, and campaign on it. There is no way this is a loser with the voters. Equifax collects data on us, without our permission, and then they expect us to pay them! Tie it to Pawlenty and the banksters too.

    But more than likely, the DFL won’t get behind this. There are probably some high buck donors that they won’t want to offend.

    Too bad, it’d be a good way to fight for the little guy, rural and urban.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 02/21/2018 - 01:46 pm.

      You’re so right, Frank.

      Add to the mix that Mick Mulvaney just discontinued the investigation of Equifax. The Dems should be all over this one.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/21/2018 - 03:00 pm.

        My Next Paycheck Against Yours

        The DFL will leave this golden opportunity on the table. Kurt Daudt won’t even loose any sleep over this one.

  2. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/21/2018 - 12:35 pm.

    This protection of the average consumer should receive the support of both MInnesota’s political parties in the Legislature. Now that President Trump is firmly set on destroying the federal Consumer Financial Protection Agency, this kind of remedy to the negative effects of financial fraud needs to be addressed on the state level.

    Thanks, Senator Marty!

  3. Submitted by John Eidel on 02/21/2018 - 08:18 pm.

    Protecting Information

    At this point, I have no fewer than 3 complimentary two year credit monitoring “services” alerting me to potential breeches of my personal information. These “services” provide these alerts because multiple entities have not adequately protected my personal financial data, resulting in “settlements” that provide these “services” in lieu of actual compensation for their negligence. At what point do we make these breeches so financially crippling that the entities in question are forced to actually do something about it? I support Senator Marty in his efforts but feel that additional safeguards/penalties are required.

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