WASHINGTON, DC— Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) today released the Credit Information Protection Act of 2017, H.R. 3766, in response to a major data breach at Equifax that exposed the personal information of tens of millions of Americans to potential hackers, identity theft, and credit problems.

“After the recent breach, millions of people are rightly concerned about having so much of their personal information exposed,” said Himes. “One of the first and most important steps that individuals can take to protect themselves is freezing access to their credit information until they can work with credit reporting agencies to determine their exposure. But, I strongly believe that when a breach occurs it’s not right for the victims to bear the burden of paying for freezes and it is completely unacceptable for a company to profit from the fee charged to freeze files after such a vast security failure. In fact, I hope that Equifax steps up and covers the fees necessary to institute a freeze at all other credit bureaus for all affected consumers in this instance.”

The Credit Information Protection Act requires any credit reporting agency that suffers a data breach to allow consumers to initiate a security freeze on their information free of charge. The second allows for an unlimited amount of freezes at no charge if it is discovered that a consumer is actually affected by the data breach.

“Hackers work tirelessly to gain access to Americans’ private information,” continued Himes.  “Clearly, we have to protect our personal information and companies must greatly improve data security, but in the immediate aftermath of a situation like this, preventing consumers from paying for something that was not their fault must be our highest priority.  The goal of this bill is simply to ensure that when personal information does fall into the wrong hands it is as easy as possible for American families to mitigate as much damage as possible with no cost.”