How Vermonters Can Protect Against the Equifax Data Breach

Vt. lawmaker also drafting bill to eliminate credit freeze fees

BURLINGTON, Vt. - If you have a credit report, there's a good chance you or someone you know was impacted by the Equifax data breach.

In the Green Mountain State, the company says at least 240,000 Vermonters could be at risk for identity theft.

The Vermont Attorney General's Consumer Assistance Program at the University of Vermont has fielded over 700 calls in less than a week.

Zachery Weight says if you're like him, there's no avoiding being a customer of the company.

"I got my truck last August- credit report. I'm looking to buy a house, get a quote- that's another credit report. I didn't choose to be their customer," said Weight.

Like Weight, 143 million other Americans are affected In Vermont, the breach affected 240,000 people.

Christopher Curtis heads the Public Protection Office of the Vermont Attorney General. He says the Equifax data breach is a top priority for the office.

"Vermonters are angry and are upset, and I don't blame them, they should be. So this company had better be moving heaven and earth to make this right for Vermonters and fix this mess," said Curtis.

Since the breach, the UVM Consumer Assistance Program says it averages about 70 calls per day about Equifax.

Vermont has not joined a lawsuit against the company, but Attorney General T.J. Donovan joined 43 other attorneys general demanding action and accountability.

"Our job number one is to make sure Vermonters have the tools they need to be protected," said Curtis.

He recommends Vermonters do three things.

"Number one, reach out to all the credit bureaus and get a copy of your report; you can do that for free. Number two, monitor your existing financial accounts, your bank accounts your credit card accounts. Keep an eye on them for any unusual or unauthorized activity. And third, consider a credit freeze, that's something you can do through the credit bureaus as well. It may cost a fee," said Curtis.

Meanwhile, Vermont lawmakers are in the process of drafting a bill to protect vermonters in their dealings with credit reporting agencies, like Equifax.

In the event you have to freeze your credit reporting account, sometimes there's a small fee, anywhere from $10 to $30 dollars.

Sen. Michael Sirotkin, (D) Chittenden, says it isn't fair to consumers when they've done nothing wrong.

So, he's drafting a bill to change that.

"At the very least, make sure make sure people don't suffer anymore financial harm but that's only the tip of the iceberg, the hassle factor involved and the potential of having somebody use your identity to open new credit cards or to charge things to you is frightening to a lot of Vermonters," said Sirotkin.

In the wake of the breach, Equifax has agreed to waive fees through November 21.

Sirotkin wants that waiver to be permanent.

While Weight did get a letter saying he could be affected, he says nothing unusual has happened to his bank accounts at this point.

"I'm definitely monitoring, almost two or three times a week," said Weight.

For more information, visit the UVM CAPS website here.

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