This July 21, 2012, file photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. On Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, Equifax said it has made changes to address customer complaints since it disclosed a week earlier that it exposed vital data on about 143 million Americans. Credit: Mike Stewart | AP

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills joined a growing group of attorneys general Friday when she called on Equifax to offer only free credit checks following a security breach this week that involved 143 million people.

Equifax, by concurrently offering free and fee-based credit monitoring services, is “seemingly using its own data breach as an opportunity to sell services to breach victims,” wrote the attorneys general in a joint letter.

Those affected by the data breach include at least 500,000 Mainers. Mills said in a news release Friday that hundreds of Mainers are calling the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division and the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection.

“Through no fault of their own, they are being exposed to identity theft,” said Mills. “They shouldn’t have to pay the company at fault to freeze their credit or get protection.”

By law, Mainers can have their credit report files frozen for free by contacting each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Anyone charged for a credit file freeze by a credit reporting agency should contact the Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-800-436-2131 or the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 1-800-332-8529.

Maine’s U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King are among 36 U.S. senators calling for an investigation into allegations that high-level Equifax executives sold $2 million in stock just after the data breach.

Meanwhile, a group called Allied Progress is using the breach as a reason to target Collins in a new television ad. It calls on the Republican to buck Senate Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule.

King supports that rule, but Collins hasn’t taken a position. Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark said in a Thursday email to the Bangor Daily News that Collins is “currently examining the implications of the rule.” King said in a statement that the fine print in Equifax’s data breach site that could block users from suing is “exactly why the CFPB implemented their new rule, and I support it.”

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.