Senate bill benefits Equifax

By Jim Puzzanghera - Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON (McClatchy) — Equifax Inc. was publicly excoriated by senators last fall for its massive data breach. Now, the company and other credit reporting firms are in line to get some last-minute benefits in a banking deregulation bill that originally was designed to punish them by adding new consumer rights.

The bipartisan Senate bill includes requirements that Equifax and the other credit reporting companies allow people to freeze and unfreeze their files for free and provide free credit monitoring for active-duty members of the military.

But as the bill nears final approval in the Senate this week, its main sponsor, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), has proposed an amendment that would prohibit active duty military from suing credit-reporting companies regarding any problems with the free credit monitoring.

Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said that, if approved, the provision would be the first time federal law would prohibit a consumer’s right to sue regarding their credit reports.

“Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a leading opponent of the legislation, said he could not understand the change to the bill.

“Americans are furious with Equifax, as they should be, but this amendment … for reasons I can’t fathom includes provisions designed to help Equifax,” said Brown. “In exchange for this token benefit, they demanded that consumers and service members give up their right to take Equifax to court. So Equifax is willing to do a little bit for people, just a little bit, but damn it, you can’t sue us then.”

By Jim Puzzanghera

Los Angeles Times