TransUnion Will Let You Freeze Your Credit Report

Beginning October 15th, credit reporting company TransUnion will let consumers freeze their credit reports, which means imposters will not be able to use your credit to do things like open new phone accounts or sign up for credit cards. While this is great news, the other two major credit reporters, Experian and Equifax, are so far not offering a similar feature, although they say they’re considering it.

Of course, TransUnion isn’t simply doing this to be nice. Unless you can prove you’re already a victim of identity theft, the freeze will cost you $10. No word on whether that’s a one-time or annual fee, but we’ll be realists and assume it’s annual. You receive a pin code that you can use to unfreeze the report for legitimate uses.

A spokesman for Consumers Union points out that the offering is good, but not really effective unless the other big players participate:

We think it’s a major development… but you really need to be able to freeze all three of your credit files. Otherwise, it’s like locking your front door but leaving your window and back door open.

Currently 39 states have passed laws that offer various levels of freezing protection, but TransUnion is the first credit reporting agency to offer it to customers in every state, regardless of whether they’ve been the victims of identity theft or not.

“TransUnion gives consumers authority to block use of credit reports” [The Kansas City Star]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. ElizabethD says:

    Han! (sob)

    Nice pic.

  2. Saboth says:

    I’ve been wanting to do something like this awhile…put a lock on credit, credit cards, bank account, etc that requires something special to access them. A good first step.

  3. Hobo-NC says:

    Can’t you call each of them up and place a “fraud alert” on your acct.? Then they can only approve new accts by going through heightened measures, to ensure that the person they are dealing with is really you.

  4. Amelie says:

    While I’m very heartened to hear this news, I fail to see how it will do any good if the other agencies are still giving them out. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

  5. FLConsumer says:

    This, as there’s a nice 1/4 page advert for Experian trying to sell your info in today’s NY Times.

  6. InThrees says:

    “Hi, I’m an identity thief pretending to be Soandso, and ‘I’ lost ‘my’ pin number, and ‘we’re’ going to be financing a new washer dryer set soon. Can you mail me my pin number?”

  7. aikoto says:

    Equifax is doing it too. I hope Experian follows.

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/09/credit_freeze.html

  8. aikoto says:

    @Hobo

    Fraud alert does nothing. It’s a flag that warns the retailers to check the sale more closely (but they can and do ignore it).

  9. I get to pay people to stop them from handing out sensitive financial information about me.

    Hooray?

  10. bohemian says:

    So would this prevent anyone from pulling a credit report without your permission? We had a bunch of unknown inquiries a few years back. What about employers and things like insurance companies pulling your credit?

  11. spartan789 says:

    I sent this in at least a week ago…come on guys. You’re slacking here.

  12. vladthepaler says:

    Mind

  13. vladthepaler says:

    Mind you, if anyone other than a credit reporting company said “I have all your confidential personal financial data and I will give it to anybody who asks for it unless you pay me a fee”, you’d call the cops. But since it’s a credit reporting company, Two cheers for extortion!

  14. rejuvinator says:

    I’ve always wondered about this. Can’t another person with all my information freeze my account and get an authentication pin for it? If that happens, won’t I be spending time trying to prove my identity?!

  15. Buran says:

    I don’t know why they’re dragging their feet on offering this considering they perfectly well CAN freeze reports — they do in some states (but not MO!). So why are they still “thinking” about it when some lucky states already have this offering?

    C’mon, guys, I want to freeze my report!

  16. @spartan789: Sorry about that, Spartan! Must’ve overlooked it.

  17. JimmyKumby says:

    The $10 is per incident, so you’ll pay $10 to institute the freeze and then $10 every time you need to (temporarily) lift or reinstate it. And yeah, financial extortion is an accurate term for it.

  18. @vladthepaler: Exactly. I want to know how the Credit Unions convinced people their business was legal in the first place.

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    Wait. So the credit reporting companies do such a piss-poor job of maintaining and protecting our credit histories that some barely literate glue-sniffer from Lagos can buy a car in our name, and they have the audacity to CHARGE us $10 to NOT let this happen?

    How about passing a bill that any report or history misuse is the liability of whichever credit agency that allowed it? THAT would fix the problem in about two months.

  20. FLConsumer says:

    Here’s the Experian ad from page C10 (Business section) of today’s NY TImes:

    Doesn’t look like they’re trying to protect my privacy there.