Following the September 7 Equifax breach potentially affecting 143 million Americans — including 8 million in New York — a state senator from the Hudson Valley is introducing legislation to shift some of the power to consumers when it comes to credit reporting agencies.
The Equifax breach that exposed primarily names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers has prompted New York state Senator David Carlucci, an Independent Democrat, to introduce, thus far, two pieces of legislation.
“The first is notification. The fact that your data could be compromised, and there’s no requirement to identify those people and notify you within a timely manner is really unconscionable in this day and age,” Carlucci says. “The legislation that I put forward puts a timeframe on it to say, within 48 hours, that individual has to be notified.”
And here’s the second bill.
“The piece of legislation that I’m putting out today really starts to change the paradigm to the fact of empowering consumers,” Carlucci says. “Right now, you have to pay to freeze your credit and unfreeze your credit. That’s something that should just belong to the person whose credit it is. And the legislation that I’m putting forward would say that any New Yorker could freeze and unfreeze their credit at any time, for free.”
The state Senate Consumer Protection Committee, chaired by Carlucci, is also holding a hearing next week on identity theft.
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the Department of Financial Services to issue new regulations requiring credit reporting agencies to register with the state by February 1, 2018, and comply with this state's strict cyber security standard. Carlucci says Cuomo’s proposed regulation is a step in the right direction, but more is needed. Carlucci expects the credit reporting industry to fight his legislation but says he wants its feedback on the proposed regulations, preferably during the hearing.
“In today’s day and age, where your credit rating is really your economic status, we have to empower New Yorkers. And, if the federal government’s not going to do it, we have to do it here in New York state,” says Carlucci. “So that’s why I’m calling this hearing on September 26 in Albany. I’ve invited the presidents or representatives of the credit rating agencies to attend. So far, I haven’t gotten the response I want to hear. I’m going to keep pushing them to make sure that they attend.”
He says he did hear back from Equifax that no one is able to attend. An Equifax spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. He also invited representatives from two other major credit reporting agencies — Experian and TransUnion. Republican state Senator Sue Serino supports Carlucci’s efforts.
“Yes, I’m so glad that he is doing a hearing on this and moving some legislation forward because you hear it all the time and, especially with the elderly. I chair the Aging Committee, so I hear more often about all of the scams that go on,” says Serino. “And then, to have this with your social security number jeopardized and your personal information taken. That’s horrible.”
Carlucci hopes the Equifax breach will prompt consumers and legislators to demand answers and change. He sees the identity theft hearing as playing an important role.
“Not only are we losing billions of dollars a year to ID theft, but we’re compromising people’s opportunity to move up the economic ladder,” Carlucci says.
Equifax had announced that in addition to the other personal information, credit card numbers for some 209,000 U.S. consumers were accessed. Meanwhile, New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Tuesday announced that his office has sent letters to the CEOs of Experian and TransUnion, asking them to detail how they are protecting consumers’ personal information. Schneiderman opened an investigation immediately after learning of the Equifax breach.