Just a few months ago, Equifax, one of the country’s three behemoth credit bureaus, revealed one of the biggest security breaches in history, jeopardizing 3 million Massachusetts residents and 143 million Americans.
The types of stolen information, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, are used to commit identity theft. Adding insult to injury, Equifax attempted to make money off of the identity theft victims by charging them for credit-monitoring programs.
To protect consumers, hold these companies accountable, and address this crisis, Governor Baker and the Legislature must include passage of the pending identity theft protection bill on their list of priorities for the current legislative session (“Baker’s patience tested as bills lag,” Metro, Dec. 20).
The bill, filed by Senator Barbara L’Italien and Representative Jennifer Benson and supported by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, Attorney General Maura Healey, AARP, and many others, would allow consumers to freeze their credit files free of charge, give consumers more control of who gets access to their information, and require credit bureaus to better encrypt and safeguard their data.
Last year more than $16 billion was stolen from 15 million Americans as a result of identity theft — a 16 percent jump from the year before. While consumers are not individually liable for the fraudulent charges, they spend endless time, effort, and frustration in clearing up their credit reports and restoring their good names after they have been victimized. And we all pay for the theft in higher interest rates and fees.