Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Credit Bureaus Offer Credit Freeze

by Rick Kam

TransUnion and Equifax to offer credit freeze services according to a September 22, 2007 article in by Martin Bosworth.

"offer consumers the ability to "freeze" their credit files in all 50 states in order to protect themselves against identity theft and fraud. The service will be available in the 11 states that do not already have credit-freeze laws, costing consumers $10 to set the freeze and $10 to unlock it, and will "meet or exceed the requirements" of states with existing freeze laws. The freeze service will be free to victims of identity theft, and is scheduled to roll out Oct. 15."

This means that you can instruct these two credit bureaus to freeze your credit making it more difficult for an ID thief to set up a new fraudulent credit card or take out a loan using your personal information. Experian is the other major credit bureau. They have not indicated whether or not they will also offer this service.

The question is whether or not this is a good solution to protect you from ID theft? There is a $10 cost to freeze and unfreeze your credit. If you are a victim of ID theft, the cost to freeze your credit is $0.

Our suggestion is to look at using this tool if you are a victim of ID theft versus a preventative measure. There are several reasons for this.

1. If you are a victim of ID theft, it can prevent more fraudulent accounts being set up by the thief

2. If you are not a victim of ID theft, this tool requires you to take an action each time you want to open a new credit line.

3. A credit freeze only protects you against credit fraud. There are many more ways ID theft can occur that this tool will not address including debit fraud, medical ID theft, criminal misuse of your ID etc.

The good news is there are new preventative tools entering the market that provide a 360 degree protection against all of these issues and provide better protection. These services scan both financial and non-financial data sources and do a much better job of protecting your identity. I will discuss more on this topic in future blogs.

No comments: