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With Session Wrapping Up, Consumers Notch Legislative Win

Credit scores are checked for a variety of reasons, including employment and housing. (Investment Zen/Flickr)
Credit scores are checked for a variety of reasons, including employment and housing. (Investment Zen/Flickr)
March 27, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – With Idaho lawmakers scheduled to adjourn today, greater protections for consumers is one win to emerge from this session.

Senate Bill 1265 will allow Idahoans to freeze and unfreeze their credit once a year for free, starting in July. The legislation comes after a massive data breach at the credit reporting company Equifax exposed the personal information of nearly 150 million Americans.

State Sen. Jeff Agenbroad of Nampa crafted the bill. He says credit reports are checked for a wide variety of things, including employment, rent, and more.

"They impact all of our lives, whether we apply for credit or not," he says. "So given that, I thought the best defense in this world of breaches is that we probably need to do what we can to remove any barriers between the consumer and their information."

Agenbroad says the fact that this is a one-time ability consumers have is important. He says he didn't want to damage the reporting agencies, so the bill is consistent with the agencies' obligation to provide a free credit report once a year. Currently, companies can charge up to $6 when consumers ask to freeze or unfreeze their credit.

Lupe Wissel, state director of AARP Idaho, says this bill is also a win for seniors on fixed incomes who struggle to afford the cost of freezing and unfreezing of their credit. She talks about what scammers can do with a person's information if it's compromised.

"Once your information is out there and if they have the right information, they can literally open credit cards, purchase items that you never know about until it's too late," she warns. "And then to fix that can take years."

In the wake of the breach, Equifax did offer free credit freezes. The U.S. Congress also is considering providing free credit freezes to consumers.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID