At last count — the total was revised upward by 2.4 million last week — as many as 147.9 million consumers were affected by the cyberattack at Equifax, which was revealed last September. The personal information compromised in the breach include names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and some driver's license numbers.
The congressional effort to require free freezes is part of a larger measure, S. 2155, which rolls back some banking regulations put in place after the financial crisis that rocked the U.S. economy a decade ago. While consumer advocates have long sought free credit freezes, they are opposed to this provision being part of a bill that eases regulatory requirements and oversight of banks and mortgage lenders.
"I think free freezes are good, but not when it's part of a bill with other things that puts consumers and the economy at risk," said Mike Litt, consumer campaign director at consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG.
Supporters of the bill, however, say it will make it easier for consumers to access loans and will encourage economic growth.
Litt also said that by imposing a national standard for credit freezes, it prevents states from taking additional steps to give consumers better control of their own credit reports. Additionally, the provision does not require passwords or PINs — only identifying information — when a freeze is lifted, which Litt said could make it easier for criminals to access your credit report.