After just one day on the job, the new chief executive of Equifax announced a program that will let customers lock and unlock their credit data — free of charge, for life.
The program is the credit-reporting company’s latest move to stem harm from a data breach affecting potentially more than 140 million customers.
The new service, which will begin by Jan. 31, was announced Wednesday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed — titled, On Behalf of Equifax, I’m Sorry — by new interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr.
“We will act quickly and forcefully to correct our mistakes,” he wrote. “Our responsibility is to provide timely, reassuring support to every affected consumer. Our longer-term plan is to give consumers the power to protect and control access to their personal credit data.
“The service we are developing will let consumers easily lock and unlock access to their Equifax credit files. You will be able to do this at will. It will be reliable, safe and simple. Most significantly, the service will be offered free, for life.”
Barros was appointed on Tuesday after Rick Smith retired from the post, just days after the credit reporting agency reported the massive breach.
Barros promised to extend other protective services for customers — including pushing the deadline to sign up for free credit freezes to the end of January, and extending the sign-up period for TrustedID Premier.
Equifax said it plans to address issues with their call centers and websites as well, with Barros writing that more experienced agents will be added to call centers and website security will be upgraded.
Equifax said the breach potentially affects 143 million U.S. customers — with information like names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses possibly compromised.
News of the breach has prompted investigations by lawmakers and regulators like the New York Department of Financial Services, which has issued a subpoena to demand more information.
“There is no magic cure for data breaches,” Barros continued. “We are committed to doing what we can to help millions of consumers rest easier.”