Oregon House OKs Bill To Make Security Freeze Protection Free for Consumers

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Public Policy Fellow
Media Director

Consumers Union Applauds Lawmakers For Supporting Identity Theft Protection Bill

March 1, 2018

SALEM, OR – The Oregon House approved legislation today that enables state residents to use security freeze protection for free to prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts or lines of credit using stolen information.  A nearly identical bill has already been approved by the Senate, which is expected to take up the version passed by the House soon and send the legislation on to the Governor for her consideration.

Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, applauded state lawmakers for supporting SB 1551 (known as the “Equifax bill”) and urged Governor Kate Brown to sign the identity theft protection bill into law once it reaches her desk.

“The Equifax data breach was a shocking reminder of how vulnerable we all are to having our sensitive information compromised and falling victim to identity theft,” said Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst for Consumers Union.   “Identity thieves can ruin a consumer’s credit record by opening fraudulent accounts in their names and running up big bills that go unpaid.  By making the security freeze free, Oregon is providing consumers with a powerful safeguard that prevents crooks from doing serious financial damage that can take years to repair.”

A security freeze gives consumers the choice to “freeze” or block access to their credit file against identity thieves trying to open up a new account or to get new credit in their name.  Under current Oregon law, most consumers in the state must pay $10 to each of the three major credit bureaus when they place, temporarily lift, or remove a credit freeze.

When a security freeze is in place at all three major credit bureaus, an identity thief cannot open a new account because the potential creditor or seller of services will not be able to check the credit file. When the consumer is applying for credit, he or she can lift the freeze temporarily using a PIN so legitimate applications for credit or services can be processed.

If SB 1551 becomes law, Oregon will join four other states that enable consumers to place, temporarily lift, and remove security freeze protection for free:  Indiana, Maine, North Carolina (if placed online), and South Carolina.  Four other states enable consumers to place a security freeze for free, but they can be charged to temporarily lift or remove a freeze:  Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.

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Consumers Union is the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.  Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization.  Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually.  Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.