Ohio lawmakers want to ban freeze fees charged by credit agencies

Credit reporting agencies would no longer be allowed to charge consumers fees every time they place or lift a freeze on their credit reports, under a proposal from state Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton.

Henne and his co-sponsor state Rep. Brigid Kelly, D-Columbus, testified Tuesday on House Bill 386, which would prohibit credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, TransUnion and Experian from charging fees for freezes.

Henne listed more than three dozen major data breaches reported this year — news that prompted thousands of consumers to consider putting a freeze on their credit reports. A freeze blocks the agencies from releasing credit reports and scores to new creditors, making it more difficult for unauthorized accounts to be opened.

“There have been nearly 8,000 reported breaches since 2005 affecting nearly 10 billion records. Sixty records are stolen every second and the U.S. is the most targeted country in the world,” Henne said in his written testimony. “By 2020, over one-third of all data will live or pass through the cloud. You cannot go out to eat, stay at a hotel, take an Uber, apply for college or even get sick without exposing your information to criminals.”

Related: Clark Howard: 10 things you should know about the Equifax breach

Related: How to freeze your credit with all three agencies

Current law allows the agencies to charge up to $5 to either place or lift a freeze, unless the consumer is the victim of identity fraud.

Henne argues that it would cost a family of four $60 to freeze their credit with the three credit agencies and another $60 to unfreeze it. Getting rid of the fees will make it easier for consumers to protect themselves, he said.

Kelly said in her written testimony that Ohio would join seven other states, plus Washington, D.C., in banning such fees.

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