Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has introduced a bill that would make it easier for Americans to freeze their credit, a tool for consumers that has gotten more notice in the wake of Equifax’s massive data breach.
Warren, who has a reputation for taking on consumer-related issues, also announced that she has requested an investigation into consumer data security.
Here’s what Warren’s bill could mean for you.
Freezing your credit essentially makes it incredibly unlikely credit will be lent out in our name by making it impossible to find out your credit score, therefore making it unfavorable to lenders, which often require a credit check before granting a loan.
The idea has taken hold after Equifax announced its data breach, exposing hundreds of millions of Americans to nefarious actions. Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, home addresses, and driver’s license numbers were potentially exposed in the breach.
However, freezing your credit usually costs money. The cost varies from state to state, generally ranging between $3 and $10. However, in some states, it’s free.
Warren’s legislation, the Freedom from Equifax Exploitation Act, would force credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, to allow Americans to freeze and unfreeze their credit for free. The bill would also require any fees incurred by Americans trying to freeze their credit after Equifax’s breach be refunded.
In a letter to the Comptroller General, Warren asked that a review of the causes of Equifax’s breach be launched.
“The concerns about the Equifax breach are particularly stark because the company—and the two other large credit reporting agencies, Experian and TransUnion—occupies a unique place in the financial world,” Warren wrote. “They obtain and use massive troves of data on millions of consumers, but consumers have little to no power over how this data is collected, how it is used, or how it is kept safe.”
Warren also reintroduced the Equal Employment for All Act, which would prevent employers from asking for job applicants credit histories during the application process.
“Credit reports are already riddled with errors. The Equifax hack will make it worse. Inaccurate reports shouldn’t hurt your job chances,” Warren wrote on Twitter.