In Wake of Poor Response to Data Breach, CoPIRG Offers Tips to Coloradans

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In light of U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) poor handling of data breaches reported earlier this month, CoPIRG produced identity theft tips for anyone affected in Colorado.

“Credit monitoring services do not prevent identity theft,” said Danny Katz, Director of the consumer advocacy group CoPIRG. “Only a security freeze can stop new accounts from being opened in your name.”

The number of potentially affected government employees, their neighbors, and friends has risen to 18 million people. Despite an urgent need for reliable information and solutions, the OPM’s offer of one year of credit monitoring service is a weak, short-term remedy because it only alerts victims to potential identity theft after it has occurred, Katz added.

To address the OPM’s incomplete response to the data breaches, CoPIRG produced more complete identity theft tips for federal employees. Chief among the tips provided by CoPIRG is a recommendation for a security freeze. A security freeze prevents a consumer’s credit report from being shared with potential new creditors. Freezes are available to residents of all 50 states.

Colorado passed a security freeze law in 2006. You can see the details on Consumers Union’s guide to credit freezes here. There is no fee for the first freeze; $10 to lift the freeze temporarily, or to remove it altogether; $12 to temporarily lift the freeze for a specific creditor and $10 to place a second freeze. The freeze will continue until you request that it is lifted. 

“To make matters worse, federal employees looking to sign up for the free monitoring service have experienced website crashes and three hour long wait times,” Katz added, “Get the peace of mind of a security freeze instead,” concluded Katz.

A security freeze offers peace of mind, although it comes with a modest cost and requires planning, since when you want to apply for credit, you will need to selectively or temporarily unfreeze your credit reports. It can cost $5-15 one-time to place a freeze on each of your three credit reports, plus the same amount to “unfreeze” each report each time you do want to apply for credit. Most states offer free security freezes for identity theft victims or senior citizens.

CoPIRG’s Identify Theft Tips are available here.