With identity theft on a continued advance upward and noted as the number one white collar crime in America today a popular option is for consumers to shut down (lock) access to their credit reports. This makes it nearly impossible for some criminal intent to reek financial havoc on an individuals well being and the process is known as a security freeze or credit lock.
As of the first of November in 2007, all three credit reporting agencies gave consumers in America the ability to limit access to their individual credit reports. Of course unless you are an actual victim of identity theft, the process is not actually free in most states. To put a freeze on your credit report as a simple proactive measure to avoid criminal theft of your information; costs in most states and fees very widely. One would have to go to each of the three credit bureau’s web sites for specific instructions and individual state fees. Additionally, to implement a freeze completely, the process to freeze your credit report has to be done at each agency: all of whom have various methodologies.
A credit freeze does provide substantial identity theft protection however, it is not without loopholes. It can not stop non-credit-related forms of ID theft, such as the creation of a duplicate driver’s license or criminal identity theft (when a suspect gives your name to police when booked for a crime). It also won’t stop an illegal immigrant or undocumented worker from using your Social Security Number to obtain employment.
Additionally, it won’t stop every company from accessing your credit report. New creditors are largely blocked out, yet still existing lenders i.e. your current credit card company (for example) can still view your report and offer you new credit cards. Also, collection agencies acting on behalf of these companies with your current account(s), state or local agencies that includes law enforcement, child support agencies, trial courts pursuant to a warrant or subpoena, credit monitoring companies and companies that sell credit reports to consumers are still viable accesses.
It also won’t stop those pre-approved credit card offers. The bureaus can still give your name and address to credit card companies. Of course, you can stop those mailings by making a simple call to 1-888-5OPTOUT or by visiting .
Putting a freeze in place requires some time consuming paperwork like sending certified letters. And it means keeping track of freezing and subsequent lifts of an imposed freeze. As stated earlier, it does no good to freeze one or two reports. If you want real identity theft protection, you’ll have to go through the motion and requirements to freeze all three credit agencies. If you want to get a new credit card, you’ll have to lift at least one agencies credit report freeze. To undertake a major investment such as buying a new home, you’ll most likely have to lift all three credit agency freezes then; turn around and make sure they are frozen again to safeguard your identity after the purchase is closed.