Thursday, June 15, 2006

Credit Freeze Legislation

I think the House is on the verge of making a mistake.

The Financial Data Protection Act of 2006 (HR 3997) will override a number of existing state laws that have gone into effect in the past year relating to data protection and the ability of consumers to "freeze" their credit files (go to the ending section of the link to learn about the basics of a credit freeze; there is also info at this prior post).

Having one set of standards so the credit bureaus don't go crazy is sensible, but the House bill limits freezes to victims of ID theft, which is not sensible. Many states have made freezes available to anyone who wants one as a preventative measure; that is sensible.

ID theft and data breaches are rampant (26 million vets, 2.2 active service people, etc, etc,). The financial industry isn't protecting data adequately, and given human nature (carelessness, disgruntled employees, etc.), maybe they will never be able to.

I sent an e-mail to Congresswoman Schmidt (posted here, with links added) asking her to vote against the legislation unless it revised to give every consumer the right to freeze their credit, no questions asked, for no fee. After all, it's our data.

I'd encourage you to educate yourself on the topic, contact your congressperson about the bill, and encourage them to insist on having universal credit-freeze access in the final bill.

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