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Security

Equifax will let customers control their credit data for free

The credit reporting company's new CEO apologizes, promises a new service in January, and extends the window for free credit freezes and access to monitoring.

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Is it too late now to say sorry, Equifax?

In a lengthy mea culpa in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, the company's new interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. apologized for its massive data breach and Equifax's subsequent response.

In recompense, Barros promised a new service would launch by Jan. 31, 2018, that gives Equifax customers control of access to their credit data. The as-yet-unnamed service will be free for life, Barros said.

"The service we are developing will let consumers easily lock and unlock access to their Equifax credit files," he said. "You will be able to do this at will. It will be reliable, safe and simple."

Contacted by CNET, an Equifax spokesperson added the service will be compatible with phones and computers.

Barros also said the company would widen the window for customers to sign up for free credit freezes through January, extending the previous Nov. 21 deadline. Customers will also have the same period to enroll for free in its TrustedID Premier credit monitoring service.

The changes were spurred by customer demand, Barros said. They follow Equifax's move on Sept. 12, following consumer protests, to stop charging fees for a credit freeze. 

Criticism to the company's response has been widespread, and incidents like sending customers to a fake site and poor security in the credit reporting industry have not helped. 

Updated with additional detail from Equifax.

Read more: Your guide to surviving the Equifax data breach