Williams to sponsor bill to protect consumers from credit reporting agencies

Author: Marianne Goodland - January 3, 2018 - Updated: January 3, 2018

Colorado Springs Republican House District 15 candidate Dave Williams casually takes in the happenings. He can afford to relax. Williams is running to fill the seat being vacated by conservative internet preacher Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt. Williams won the GOP primary and is a shoo-in to win in the general election against Democrat Sharon Huff.Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Dave Williams (Photo by John Tomasic/Colorado Politics file photo)

UPDATED with comment from Rep. Williams on credit alternatives.

More than 145 million Americans woke up on Sept. 8 to find that their personal data, including Social Security numbers,  birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers had been stolen through a security breach at the credit reporting agency Equifax.

Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs believes the response by credit agencies to the data breaches has been less than satisfying and intends to sponsor a bill in the 2018 session to allow consumers to protect themselves and their financial and personal data.

Republican Williams said Tuesday that the “traditional response from credit agencies when these types of cyber security threats occur has been woefully inadequate to say the least. Equifax was utterly negligent when they allowed cyber criminals to steal the intimate information of over 145 million Americans.”

Williams said his bill would allow victims to control their private information. The bill would also incentivize credit agencies to protect consumers and “uphold their fiduciary reasonability to the individual people they hold immense financial influence over.”

Because of these data breaches, Williams said, “consumers are left with having to deal with cyber criminals and identity thieves for years to come, while Equifax and others continue to profit with little to no relief given to the true victims.”

Under the bill, consumers can “opt out” of a credit agency, which would prevent that agency from selling the information to a third party. The bill also will allow consumers who were victimized in a data breach to hold the agency responsible by requiring the agency to turn over the consumer’s credit file and any other consumer reports the agency has developed on the consumer. The agency would also be required to purge the consumer’s file, both the physical file and the electronic record, and would be prohibited from recording or retaining any information on the affected consumer.

UPDATE: The bill raises questions about credit options for consumers should they opt out of the credit reporting agencies. Williams on Wednesday told Colorado Politics that there are three main credit agencies that banks rely on, and “banks also can look at income and assets versus liabilities like they used to. They can even look at any other criteria they choose.”

In addition, Williams said, the marketplace “has alternatives and solutions for consumers who opt out of one or more of the credit agencies. The point is consumers, especially victims like in the case of Equifax, should have the choice, not a credit agency that has proven irresponsible with people’s private information.”

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.