Why LePage veto of ID theft protection bill could cost you

leapage2Consumer and financial advocates aren’t happy with Governor Paul LePage.

LePage has vetoed a bill that could have helped protect Mainers from identity theft resulting from recent data breaches. LD 382 proposed eliminating the current fees to place a security freeze on your credit report.lock

A security freeze locks access to your credit file so no one can open up a new account using your stolen personal information. You can still get new credit by using a unique PIN (Personal Identification Number).

The cost for a security freeze varies by state. In some states, it’s free. Other states allow the credit bureaus to charge as little as $3. In Maine, consumers who have been a victim of identity theft can get a security freeze for free. That same freeze costs everyone else $10 for each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) for a total cost of $30.

“Particularly for Maine residents with low and fixed-income, these fees are considered a major deterrent against utilizing one of the state’s strongest protections against identity theft,” according to a press release from AARP.

If the governor had signed LD 382, Maine would have joined the states requiring the credit bureaus to freeze the accounts for free; he put the veto pen to the bill Monday.

“This bill mandates that credit reporting agencies provide both the placement and removal services for free. I do not believe it is appropriate for government to require a private enterprise to provide a service for no charge,” LePage wrote in his veto letter to legislators.

According to records with the Insurance and Financial Services Committee — the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, the Attorney General, The Maine Fraud Prevention Alliance, New England Credit Consultants, Maine Council on Aging, and AARP Maine all supported the bill. No one testified in opposition to the bill.

“During a time of unparalleled identity theft and personal security breaches, we are truly baffled by the governor’s decision to veto this bi-partisan legislation,” AARP Maine State President Rich Livingston said in a statement.

Jane Carpenter, founder of Maine Identity Services, LLC, supported the bill, too. Carpenter estimates recent data breaches have affected about 750,000 Mainers.

“I am disappointed that the bill was vetoed because it would have removed financial barriers for placing a security freeze so that individuals, children and Maine’s 33,000 small businesses and financial institutions might avoid the costs of fraudulent transactions from identity theft. And it would have done so at no additional cost to taxpayers or to government,” Carpenter told CBS 13.

The bill got unanimous support in the House and Senate.

Consumer advocates are now asking the legislature to override LePage’s veto. A vote could happen as soon as Wednesday.

Jon Chrisos

About Jon Chrisos

Award-winning journalist Jon Chrisos is the investigative and consumer reporter at CBS 13 in Portland. He also anchors weeknights at 5:30. Chrisos is “On Your Side” investigating the stories that make a difference in your life. He’s passionate about helping those who’ve been wronged, exposing government waste, asking tough questions, and uncovering the truth.