The three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—now offer credit report security freezes that are stronger and more effective in preventing identity theft than fraud alerts.
While 39 states and the District of Columbia enacted laws requiring credit bureaus to offer this service, it is now voluntarily offered in the 11 states without security freeze laws.
Security freezes block access to credit files for any reason, unless you instruct the credit bureau to unfreeze your report, which prevents applicants for credit or new accounts from being approved. In one-third of the estimated 10 million cases of identity theft each year, fraudsters use stolen personal information to open new accounts in their victim’s name, according to the Consumers Union, the not-for-profit publisher of Consumer Reports .
Fees and procedures for placing a credit freeze vary from state to state; in some areas, victims of identity theft may receive the service for free. Visit www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more/003484indiv.html for state-by-state information on security freezes.
Source: Privacy Rights Clearing House, www.privacyrights.org .