Security Freeze Offered On Credit Files To Help Combat Identity Theft
Starting on October 15, TransUnion will begin offering consumers in all 50 states the ability to freeze access to their credit files. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have passed laws enabling consumers to request a security freeze.
"A security freeze is a powerful tool that enables consumers to prevent identity thieves from damaging their credit records," said Gail Hillebrand, Director of Consumers Union's Financial Privacy Now campaign. "All consumers deserve the right to a low-cost security freeze that makes it easy to prevent crooks from opening fraudulent accounts."
Every day, an average of 27,000 Americans have their identities stolen. In one-third of those cases, crooks use the information to open new accounts in their victim's name. Armed with just your Social Security number, a thief can open fraudulent accounts and start charging away, leaving you with a damaged credit record, which may take years to repair.
A security freeze gives you the choice to "freeze" or lock access to your credit file against anyone trying to open up a new account or to get new credit in your name. When a security freeze is in place at all three major credit bureaus, an identity thief cannot open a new account in your name because the potential creditor or seller of services will not be able to check your credit. When you are applying for credit, you can lift the freeze temporarily using a PIN so legitimate applications for credit or services can be processed.
TransUnion has announced that it will provide the security freeze at no charge to identity theft victims and charge non-victims $10 to initiate a freeze and $10 to lift it temporarily or remove it altogether. The states with the most consumer-friendly security freeze laws typically charge just $5 to initiate the protection. TransUnion has indicated that it will meet or exceed the requirements of those laws.