Se­cu­rity breach leg­is­la­tion mov­ing through Pa. House

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - COMMUNITY - If you have a ques­tion re­gard­ing any state govern­ment-re­lated mat­ter, please email them to me at ttoohil@ pa­house­gop.com. As al­ways, I look for­ward to hear­ing from you. REP. TARAH TOOHIL

I some­times use this weekly col­umn to an­swer your ques­tions about mat­ters re­lat­ing to state govern­ment or any is­sue of con­cern. This week’s ques­tion deals with the Equifax se­cu­rity breach and re­sult­ing leg­is­la­tion.

Q: I am one of the more than 5 mil­lion Penn­syl­va­nia res­i­dents who had their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion com­pro­mised by the re­cent Equifax data breach. Is there any­thing the Gen­eral As­sem­bly can doto bet­ter pro­tect con­cerned con­sumers like me? — Charles from Ha­zle­ton

A: Please know that I un­der­stand your frus­tra­tion with the sys­tem, es­pe­cially that the pub­lic was not no­ti­fied of the Equifax se­cu­rity breach in a timely fash­ion. I will be closely watch­ing any fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the case, with hopes that height­ened reg­u­la­tions will be put into place re­gard­ing the se­cu­rity prac­tices of credit re­port­ing agen­cies. Elim­i­nat­ing se­cu­rity breach es is im­per­a­tive to pro­tect­ing the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of con­sumers.

Equifax is now fac­ing dozens of pro­posed class-ac­tion law­suits as a re­sult of the breach. Th­ese cases cite claims of in­jury from al­leged se­cu­rity neg­li­gence, the de­lay in alert­ing the pub­lic, and the lack of free credit mon­i­tor­ing ser­vices pro­vided to con­sumers. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor ney Gen­eral has opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In re­ac­tion to the Equifax case, two bills were re­cently in­tro­duced in the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives that are de­signed to fur­ther pro­tect con­sumers who are vic­tims of data breaches.

The first bill would re­quire no­ti­fi­ca­tion of a breach from the en­tity where it oc­curred to the af­fected con­sumer within 30 days and to the state at­tor­ney gen­eral. The no­ti­fi­ca­tion would in­clude when it oc­curred, the type of in­for­ma­tion that was com­pro­mised, a toll-free num­ber and the ad­dress of credit re­port­ing agen­cies. The en­ti­ties must also de­velop poli­cies to safe­guard and dis­card per­sonal con­sumer in­for­ma­tion.

T he sec­ond bill would waive the cur­rent credit freeze fee, which charges up to $10 per ac­count. In the in­stance of a data breach, con­sumers would be pro­vided with three months of free credit mon­i­tor­ing and up to three free credit re­ports for one cal­en­dar year af­ter the date the breach is re­ported.

In ad­di­tion, the House passed leg­is­la­tion in June that would make a credit freeze per­ma­nent un­til re­moved by the con­sumer. House Bill 1094 is now un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in the Sen­ate.

If you be­lieve you have been a vic­tim of iden­tity theft as a re­sult of the Equifax breach, you may seek as­sis­tance from the Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral’ s Of­fice Bu­reau of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion.

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