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Color of Money: Equifax data breach could have a silver lining

Michelle Singletary on

Equifax is waiving its freeze fee until Nov. 21.

That's not good enough.

"We've been telling anyone who'll listen to us that they should get a credit freeze," Wu said. "Problem is that consumers need to pay for these freezes, at least at Experian and TransUnion. That seems unjust given that they are the victims in this. Senator Wyden's bill addresses that injustice."

Let's all get behind this bill. This can't be a partisan issue. Too much of your financial information is at risk.

"Republicans got their social security numbers hacked too," Wu said.

Call your senator and House member to demand free freezes. If you aren't sure who represents you, go to whoismyrepresentative.com.

A Maryland reader named Diane said she's had trouble setting up a freeze on her reports since the Equifax breach. It's not an easy process. You have to separately contact each of the three major credit bureaus and navigate their unique systems. Married? This could mean paying six fees, because each spouse has his or her own credit file.

Diane and other readers complain they can't get through to the bureaus to get a freeze. No doubt, a lot of people are scared and have overwhelmed the systems. Diane is 66 and says she's mostly living on Social Security.

"If someone quickly accessed my account and got my Social Security payment or my income for a week, I would not have the money to pay my bills, including my rent," she said.

The Equifax breach was so large and so compromising that we should demand that our congressional representatives help us protect ourselves by making it free and easier to lock down our credit files.

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Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary). Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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