Life will soon be simpler for identity theft victims across the United States. That’s because all 3 credit bureaus will allow credit freezes to people in every state. Previously the laws specifying who could freeze their credit varied.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
TransUnion will offer security freezes nationwide starting tomorrow. Equifax says it will offer freezes by the end of the month. Experian announced last week that it will make freezes available to all on Nov. 1.
Is it worth freezing your credit if you’re not an identity theft victim?
The Identity Theft Resource Center found:
In 2006, there were in excess of 315 publicized breaches affecting nearly 20 million individuals. Based on ITRC’s categorization, the breaches break down as follows: 29% government/military agencies; 28% from educational institutions; 22% from general businesses; 13% from health care facilities / companies; and 8% from banking / credit / financial services entities. In 2005, there were 158 incidents affecting more than 64.8 million people.
A breach means data was lost or stolen. While you may not yet have been affected it’s possible that any intentional thefts may have a lag time until the stolen data is used, perhaps even longer than a year.
My answer? Freezing your credit can add to your identity theft prevention arsenal. It’s great—as long as you won’t be applying for loans, credit cards, or new bank accounts in the short term.
If you do freeze your credit, you can unlock it to apply for things like a home loan. Just leave time for the unlocking process.
To place a freeze, you must write to each of the three credit bureaus. You must provide identifying information. If you are an identity theft victim, provide a copy of your police report (or DMV investigative report) of identity theft. Otherwise provide payment of $10 to each of the credit bureaus.
Services are available to handle your credit freeze such as from Trusted ID, but you’ll pay an ongoing monthly maintenance fee.
Check the Consumer Union site for state-specific links and information.
Just remember it is great peace of mind to know the it’s a much greater hassle, and hopefully impossible, for someone to receive a jumbo loan in your name once your credit is locked.