U.S. PIRG has argued that while free credit freezes are good, this legislation will pre-empt states from pursuing rules that would go further to protect consumers in their dealings with credit reporting firms.
"Why are the credit bureaus getting a break in this bill only nine months after news of the massive Equifax data breach?" Litt said.
Only a few states have required credit freezes to be free. U.S. PIRG estimated last year that consumers collectively would face a $4.1 billion tab to freeze their credit reports at the three largest firms: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
In states where fees have been legal, consumers pay anywhere from $2 to $10 per freeze.
The legislation also bans credit firms from charging you for a temporary removal of your freeze when you want a lender to check your credit report so you can get a loan.
Additionally, short-term fraud alerts will be extended to one year from the current 90 days. These alerts are separate from freezes: Under a fraud alert, a lender seeking to approve an application must first contact you to verify the request is not from an imposter.
With such an alert, you only need to contact one credit reporting firm, which in turn is legally obligated to share your notice with others. It also already is free.