People in Illinois will no longer have to pay a fee to a credit agency if they request a credit freeze or lift a credit freeze on their account under legislation (HB 4095) co-sponsored by State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner June 8.
The law, which goes into effect immediately, is in response to the massive Equifax data breach last year, where hackers gained access to about 145 million customer’s names, social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses.
“It’s outrageous for a credit agency to charge a fee to someone to freeze their credit account when the agency is the very entity that screwed it up from the beginning, causing harm and panic to consumers,” Rose said. “Consumers need to be protected, and when they are not, it’s the companies that must pay up – not the consumers.”
Under the new law, a consumer will be allowed to request a freeze over the phone or through electronic form for free.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, a credit freeze lets a consumer restrict access to their credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in their name. That’s because most creditors need to see their credit report before they approve a new account. If they can’t see the file, they may not extend the credit.