In the wake of recent high-profile data breaches compromising the information of thousands of Floridians, legislators and cabinet members on Wednesday advocated for two bills that would eliminate credit report freeze fees for consumers.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam are backing two measures proposed in the Legislature, which they say would toss a “fundamentally unfair burden” to victims of identity theft.
“When our citizens have their information violated, those credit rating agencies have the ability to implement an up to $10 freeze fee to protect their credit from something that was out of their control,” Patronis said. “That is unacceptable.”
Patronis, who is running for a second term as CFO, touted Putnam as an “outstanding advocate” of the effort. Putnam is currently in the run to be the next governor.
Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Pinellas County Republican, is leading the fight to put an end to these fees in the Senate. While his bill awaits committee referrals, the companion House bill sponsored by state Rep. Shawn Harrison is up for a hearing Wednesday.
In recent months, the state has had its fair share of data breaches including one by Uber, which is currently under investigation by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office. The information of at least 32,000 Uber drivers in the state may have been compromised during a 2016 hack.
Most recently, though, the state Agency of Health Care Administration said the personal and medical information of up to 31,000 may have been accessed after an employee opened a malicious email last November.
Patronis said Miami, Naples and Tallahassee are the state’s hot spots for identity theft.