How To Set Up A Security Freeze
In some circumstances, identity thieves are able to open new credit accounts in the name of an unsuspecting consumer, rack up thousands of dollars of debt and ruin their credit rating. Consumers often spend years and thousands of dollars cleaning up this mess.
What Does a Credit Report Security Freeze Do?
A security freeze prevents new credit from being issued in a person’s name, and therefore stops identity thieves from creating unauthorized accounts, because it allows individual consumers the ability to control who gets access to their credit report. The freeze works by allowing consumers the ability to set up a password with the three major credit-reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) that blocks access to the consumer’s credit reports without their permission. A credit issuer like a bank, credit card company, or cell phone company will not issue new credit accounts unless they can judge a consumer’s credit worthiness via the credit report. Therefore, allowing the consumer to be the gatekeeper of his or her own credit report can prevent a common type of identity theft.
Should I Set Up A Security Freeze?
The security freeze may delay the approval of any subsequent credit request or application you make that involves access to your credit report. To undo or “thaw” the security freeze for the legitimate issuance of credit, you will need to contact one or all three of the credit reporting agencies, pay a $5.00 processing fee if you are not a victim of identity theft, and provide them with your passcode to unlock the freeze.
Additionally, while your report is frozen, companies that provide consumer data to the credit reporting agencies will not be allowed to update name, address, SSN and date of birth information on your credit report. If there are any changes made to your name or address while your file is frozen, you will need to notify the credit reporting agencies directly so they can update your personal information.
If you are a consumer that typically opens a lot of credit accounts (more than 3 – 5 a year), in particular instant credit accounts at retail stores, the security freeze may delay the approval of these credit lines. But if you are like most Americans, and open very few new credit accounts in a given year, the security freeze is one of the best ways to prevent identity theft.
Does it Cost Anything?
For Massachusetts residents that have been victims of identity theft or have a spouse who has been a victim of identity theft, the security freeze is free. For other consumers the security freeze costs $5.00 to set-up, lift for the legitimate issuance of new credit, and to permanently remove.
How Do I Request the Security Freeze?
For Massachusetts residents, the request must be in writing and sent to each of the three credit reporting agencies. Your request must include your name, address, social security number and a check, money order, or credit card number and expiration date to pay the $5.00 applicable fee. You also must include proof of your current residence, such as a copy of a state issued identification card or driver’s license. Once your request is received, the security freeze will be added within 3 business days. You will be provided with an information letter including a Personal Identification Number (PIN) within 5 business days. It is critical that you remember and keep safe this passcode, because you will need it to lift the security freeze if you want to establish a new form of credit.
If you are a victim of identity theft, you must provide the credit-reporting agency with a copy of a valid identity theft report or similar proof that you have been a victim of identity theft, so you will not be charged a fee for the security freeze.
Mail your request to:
National Consumer Assistance Department
P.O. Box 9530
Allen , TX 75013
To report fraud: 1-888-397-3742
For more info: http://www.experian.com/consumer/security_freeze.html
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton , CA 92834
To report fraud: 1-800-680-7289
Fore more info: http://www.transunion.com/corporate/personal/fraudIdentityTheft/preventing/securityFreeze.page
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta , GA 30374
To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285
For More info: http://www.equifax.com/cs/Satellite?c=EFX_ContentRoot&cid=1165203975981&pagename=5-1%2F5-1_Layout