Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion To Offer Credit Freezes

All three credit reporting agencies recently announced plans to let consumers freeze their credit files. Credit freezes provide security at the cost of convenience: access to credit reports and scores is prevented without the consumer’s express authorization, making it difficult to open new accounts or lines of credit. Freezes are considered one of the best, albeit drastic, ways to guard against identity theft.

Starting November 1, Experian will allow victims of identity theft to freeze and thaw their accounts for free. Others will have access to the same services, though the charge will vary by state.

Under a law that took effect in July, District residents can place, lift or remove a freeze for $10. Maryland’s law will require consumers to pay just $5, but it does not go into effect until January. Virginia has no credit freeze law.

At least 39 states and the District have laws that allow or will allow consumers to freeze their credit files, but many do not take effect until 2008 or 2009.

Experian’s move comes two weeks after a similar announcement from TransUnion. The final credit reporting agency, Equifax, is working out the final “operational details” of offering their own credit freeze option.

The credit reporting agencies’ newfound willingness to offer credit freezes is a boon to consumers, one made all the more potent by regularly checking your credit report for free.

Agency to Offer Credit Freezes [Washington Post]
(Photo: eva101)

Comments

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  1. ry81984 says:

    It makes sense to offer it for free.

    They bring people to their sites which lets them sell you your credit score or whatever else they want to peddle to you.
    They protect credit card companies from issuing credit to people who want to commit fraud which will save billions.
    They save money by not having to deal with identity theft issues.

    It really is a win-win for everyone.

  2. IphtashuFitz says:

    @RY81984 Yeah but why should they offer something for free when they can make a quick & easy $5 or $10 per person for no additional amount of work? It’s the American way!

  3. PsychicPsycho3 says:

    Why wouldn’t you want your credit frozen, forever, always? Why on Earth wasn’t this the standard to begin with? It should be HARD to open a credit card account.

  4. mantari says:

    Will it be a crime to freeze someone else’s account without their consent?

  5. ARP says:

    PsychicPsycho3- I completely agree. Having your account frozen should be the default. I’m considering doing this. My financies are fairly stable- I don’t need any more mortgages, credit cards, etc. If I do, it will be a one-off situation.

  6. pshah says:

    “… but many don’t take effect till 2008 or 2009.”

    !!??!!

  7. kingoman says:

    @PsychicPsycho3: But you’re not playing the game! If it was hard to open a new line of credit, I couldn’t spend money I don’t have!

    But seriously, you need to unfreeze it when you do want some credit (like buying a house). I think consumer-driven business has trained people they *need* their instant credit and now they won’t want to “give it up.” Pfft.

    I don’t know why they don’t just add a PIN to the credit file. If I didn’t also give you the PIN with my SSN then you can’t change my file. Make the SSN be an IDENTIFIER again instead of an AUTHORIZER.

  8. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m angry that credit companies have done such a piss-poor job at ensuring accuracy and security that credit freezes are the only viable option for consumers to protect themselves. Then these same agencies CHARGE for this?!

    There needs to be a law making them do it for free. It’s their fault that we need this “service”.

  9. thepounder says:

    LOLCAT says — I are lookin thru the fence, steelin ur creditz

    Anyhow, I recently had to put the 90 day freeze on my credit thru Experian… So thanks to them my crazy ex-girlfriend couldn’t open more lines of credit illegally in my name. Thus, I loudly applaud that they’ll be doing this. I just don’t understand why it takes maybe till 2009 to impliment, but it’s ok.

  10. mantari says:

    SAY…. will this prevent Universal Default? How will insurance companies react if they can’t get your credit score?

  11. zolielo says:

    @mantari: I was thinking along those lines but with a slightly different bent.

    I assume that there will now be forms that give firms or agencies the okay from the user…

  12. nidolke says:

    I’d say something smart regarding credit, but look at the kitty!

  13. kingoman says:

    @trai_dep: I completely agree, they created this mess, and you almost begin to think they did it to create a business (except I don’t think they’re smart enough to have planed it that far in advance).

    However, I’m also ok with an “admin charge” to change it so that if scammers found a way to access this capability they’d have to invest $$ to start. No, this might not stop them, but it might since it doesn’t scale well.

  14. vladthepaler says:

    I’d like to see a Consumerist article about how to freeze credit reports, what a “Fraud Alert” is and how to get one of those, links to the various state-specific information, etc. It’s great that it’s possible to freeze credit reports now, but just saying that it’s possible without saying how isn’t terribly useful.

  15. @PsychicPsycho3: Exactly.

    Furthermore, demanding money in exchange for not selling sensitive information to whomever requests it feels an awful lot like blackmail.

  16. Tankueray says:

    @mantari: They won’t give you their services. I had a freeze on my reports when I tried to get car insurance through Progressive, they had the wrong phone number on file and it took me a week to give them the right one so I could have insurance. My agent (who’s known me all my life) didn’t care, he just said he couldn’t give me insurance until I got my credit in order.

  17. magus_melchior says:

    @ry81984: It’s a win-win for everyone but ID thieves. Of course, why anyone would want to make things easy for them is beyond me.