Security breach legislation moving through Pa. House
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.