CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and other AGs from across the nation have written a letter to credit reporting firm Equifax requesting that it disable links for enrollment in fee-based credit monitoring service in the wake of the massive data breach.
The breach could have impacted more than 730,000 West Virginia consumers and 143 million nationwide.
Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services in response to the breach, but the attorneys general objected to Equifax "seemingly using its own data breach as an opportunity to sell services to breach victims," the AGs wrote.
“We believe continuing to offer consumers a fee-based service in addition to Equifax's free monitoring services will serve to only confuse consumers who are already struggling to make decisions on how to best protect themselves in the wake of this massive breach," Attorney General Morrisey joined in writing. “Selling a fee-based product that competes with Equifax's own free offer of credit monitoring services to victims of Equifax's own data breach is unfair, particularly if consumers are not sure if their information was compromised.”
The attorneys general also said that, although Equifax has agreed to waive credit freeze fees for those who would otherwise be subject to them – which includes West Virginia residents – the other two credit bureaus, Experian and Transunion, continue to charge fees for security freezes. The attorneys general said that Equifax should be taking steps to reimburse consumers who incur these fees to completely freeze their credit.
The Equifax data breach primarily accessed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses. In other instances, hackers also may have gained access to driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers and dispute documents containing personal identifying information, thus increasing the risk of identity theft for those impacted.
West Virginia joined the Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois and Pennsylvania-led letter, along with Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia.
Anyone with questions or needing more information about the Equifax data breach or the related impostor scam is asked to call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.