What's A Credit Freeze And How Can I Get One?

A credit freeze is a tool to prevent ID theft for those people who believe that their information has been compromised. If an ID thief applies for credit and your report is frozen, the thief will be denied.

Each state deals with credit freezes differently. In some states there are fees, in others credit freezes are only available to consumers who have filed an ID theft related police report. Other states do not allow credit freezes at all.

To find out what the laws are in your state, check out Consumer’s Union for an up to date round up of credit freeze laws.

State Security Freeze Laws
[Consumers Union via U.S. PIRG Blog]
(Photo: Zenera)


Edit Your Comment

  1. MeOhMy says:

    I love that in PA you have to pay $10 per reporting agency plus $10 to place an exception. And you have to make the request via certified mail.

    You have to love an industry that wants YOU to pay even though it theoretically helps prevent THEIR losses. What’s that you say? Being able to give out oodles of credit to any old schmo is more lucrative?

    Oh, I see.

  2. Mozoltov, motherfucker says:

    What would be really cool if you could have your credit frozen as a standard, and making a person have to call in to activate it. Say for someone like me, I never have used a credit card, nor do i want to apply for one anytime soon. If my credit is frozen, then someone stealing your identity and applying for a bunch of credit cards is a futile concept. And I think getting a credit card is too damn easy in this country. If someone need a credit card you should have to go somewhere and show ID, or call the person at a number.

  3. kalikidtx says:

    This credit freeze is rarely used and a big pain for certain types of consumers. If you are the type that likes to take advantrage of those get the credit card todsay and 0% for…. and other offers, you will not be able to take advantage of those if you freeze your credit. You have to call the consumer credit agencies everytime you want to unfreeze. Sounds great in theory, but its a big pain, juts my 2 cents….

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    I agree. No limits on your credit should *totally* be an opt-in thing.

    Really. How many times a year do you really need same-hour approval for a credit line? Most big purchases you should think over at least a day. Most store cards aren’t good value. And it’s not savvy consumerism to rely on an ever-proliferating whorl of open credit lines to buy, really, what you can’t afford to pay cash for.

    People should be free to be ninnies, but the default should be, Protect The Consumer… Which is probably why the credit card companies are so against it.

  5. aikoto says:

    I’m so happy to see the Consumerist do an article on this. If you could pin this to the top of your page permenantly (until a good federal law came out), that would be awesome.

    I’ve been beating on the Credit Freeze issue for a while including tracking the Presidential ID Theft Task Force’s saga of ignoring them and eventually discouraging them outright.


  6. aikoto says:

    Although I do want to comment that your description of freezes is lacking somewhat. The important thing is that a freeze is what most people think a “fraud alert” is, but isn’t. Fraud alerts warn retailers to be cautious when granting credit (at which point they look at the huge margins of the stuff you want to buy and approve it anyway).

    A freeze blocks all access to your account by ANYONE unless you specifically unfreeze it for that particular company or person for that specific instance. That means a thief can have ALL your personal data (including your dog’s mother’s maiden name) and still NOT GET CREDIT in your name.

    But most importantly, even non-theives can’t see your account. No more credit card companies checking your credit. No more sneak credit checks by the dealer when shopping for a car.

  7. Snakeophelia says:

    No more credit card companies checking your credit.

    If I understand it correctly, the PA rules note that credit card companies can check a frozen account in order to send you credit offers. I’ve opted out of those, but this still seems weird to me. I’m definitely interested in getting the freeze, even though it’ll cost me $30.

  8. generic says:

    There is a lot of confusion about Credit freeze, and with every state having its own law, requirements can also be confusing. Despite so, it is certainly a better alternative than becoming a victim of identity theft. Some services have actually done a good job at streamlining credit freeze information, and providing consumers with kits. One such service is [www.creditlock.com] which has an interactive color coded uS map, showing the availability of credit Freeze throughout the uS, along with kits.
    Sooner or later, all uS states will have such laws, and there is a good likelihood that eventually a Federal law will make it available nationally.