Identity theft has gotten to be such a insidious problem that many consumers are requesting that they have their credit records frozen in order to keep thieves from opening up accounts in their names, thereby possibly destroying their credit. 45 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation to protect consumers with only Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, and Alabama having yet to pass what many consider to be a vital consumer protection law.
A security freeze works by giving consumers the choice to freeze or lock access to their credit file against anyone trying to open up a new account or to get new credit in their name.
All three credit reporting bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — are notified when a credit freeze is put into place, a move which keeps creditors from checking the credit file. If a consumer needs to apply for credit, they will have access to a personal identification number which they can use to temporarily lift the restriction long enough for a known creditor to access personal information.
State By State Control Over Credit Freeze Laws
Each state sets the parameters of applying for credit freeze for their residents, with most states requiring that consumers pay a fee (usually $10) to have their credit locked. In some cases, states allow consumers with a police report proving identity theft to lock their credit for no charge and more often than not the credit freeze is permanent until the consumer asks that it be lifted. Usually, fees are incurred for the temporary or permanent lifting of the freeze.
Voluntary Participation Helps Other Consumers Too
The three credit reporting bureaus are offering credit freeze protection to those states without legislation on their books protecting consumers as well as for residents of Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, and South Dakota, where state law only protects victims of identity theft. In those states consumers must contact all three credit reporting bureaus directly to be included.
Of course, if you make regular changes to your credit including changing cell phone providers, seeking new employment, making government and other payments, or do a myriad number of other transactions in any given month, you could find that putting a freeze on your credit is more of a hassle than anything.
If this rings true for you, then buying a credit watch service could be the better choice, one that will alert you every time an account is opened up in your name.
Check with each of the three credit reporting bureaus to learn more about these types of programs.
Adv. — Are you concerned about losing your identity to thieves? Do you want to learn more about what you can do to fight this problem? Visit SayLending.com where we provide helpful information about Identity Theft and what you can do to protect yourself.
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