Supporting victims of security breaches with free access to security freezes.

By Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Maryland PIRG is pleased to support the proposal, SB0665/HB0782, from Senator Lee and Delegate Waldstreicher and other Senators and Delegates, at the request of Attorney General Frosh, to provide victims of security breaches with free access to credit report security freezes.

Just as Maryland was among the first states, in the 1990s, to provide free access to credit reports, it should also enact SB0665/HB0782 to provide more consumers more free access to credit freezes as the bill would provide to security breach victims (identity theft victims already can obtain free freezes).

A never ending stream of news reports about data breaches – including T-Mobile, Target Corporation, the IRS, numerous Blue Cross Blue Shield and other health plans, the University of Maryland, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) - is a constant reminder that you’re at risk of a data breach and therefore, identity theft if you: Shop with credit or debit cards; Pay taxes; Have health insurance; Attend college; Patronize any business that keeps customer records; or, Work for the government or a company.

As we said in our recent report, “Why You Should Get Security Freezes Before Your Information Is Stolen,” only the security freeze guarantees “peace of mind” that your credit report cannot be accessed to issue new credit in your name to an identity thief.1 The over-priced, over-hyped and sometimes deceptively marketed credit monitoring products will only, at best, warn you after you’ve already become a victim. Paid credit monitoring, often offered at the end of the “free” monitoring period to victims, in particular is not necessary because federal law requires each of the three major credit bureaus to provide a free credit report every year to all customers who request one.

You can read our full testimony on the bills here.

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