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Bank Deregulation Bill's Free Credit Freeze Section Tweaked, But Still Preempts Better State Laws

For Immediate Release

This week, Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) brought a sweeping bi-partisan bank deregulation bill, S2155, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act,” to the Senate floor. Our original opposition letter is here. The following statement applies to the bill as amended by a manager’s substitute brought to the floor, which added numerous additional provisions which we are still reviewing. Here are some of our immediate concerns with the substitute bill, particularly its amended credit freeze provision, Section 301. The bill will be debated into next week.

Statement by Mike Litt, consumer program director at U.S. PIRG on the substitute amendment to S.2155.

“Even as amended, S.2155 still potentially exposes mortgage borrowers to bad loans and racial discrimination. The bill still puts our economy at risk by removing important bank-regulating tools that can rein in risky practices taken by giant and big banks. For that matter, it may encourage community banks to undertake those risky practices.

The substitute amendment now includes free temporary removals of credit freezes, in addition to free placement and permanent removals of freezes.

However, this bill still preempts and replaces state freeze laws with a new federal law that could weaken your credit security.

It excludes use of credit reports for employment and insurance purposes from the new federal free freeze right.  Some states do apply their freezes to employment and insurance, where identity theft can be a problem, and those laws would be preempted.

This bill also prevents states from taking even stronger action such as automatically freezing consumer credit reports.

We should already have free control over our own financial information since we didn’t give credit bureaus permission to collect or sell it in the first place. Why do free freezes have to come at the expense of mortgage borrowers and the economy? That is a lopsided and bad trade-off.

Congress should deal with credit freezes separately. There are already good bills, such as the Freedom From Equifax Exploitation (FREE) Act (S.1816) and the Control Your Personal Credit Information Act (S. 2362) that are just sitting there.”

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Our step-by-step guide for placing credit freezes with all three bureaus is available here. FAQs about the Equifax data breach are available here.

U.S. PIRG is the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups.  PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that stand up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. On the web at www.uspirg.org.

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