Better than a Fraud Alert, FREEZE your Credit File

I have to thank the Wall Street Journal, Money and Investing Section, in the Saturday/Sunday November 4-5, 2006 paper, for reminding me of Credit Freeze Laws.

"More states are letting consumers prevent businesses from seeing their credit reports without permission. Is it an identity-theft solution, or just a nuisance? B4"

Credit Freeze laws "permit consumers, often for a small fee, to stop a credit-reporting agency from releasing their file to almost anyone without their explicit authorization. A freeze affects eveything from opening a credit card to setting up cell phone service".

I'll tell you what, if this credit freeze capability will stop the four to eight credit card offers I receive DAILY from arriving in my mailbox, this sounds like an excellent idea. About 25 states have enacted credit freeze laws. New York's law took effect November 1st, 2006, and laws in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin take effect on January 1, 2007.

Consumer groups are in favor of these laws, and, as you might expect, companies who want to freely examine your credit reports are against them.

"An estimated 95 million Americans have been exposed to some risk of identity theft in the last two years because of breaches at companies, institutions, and governments". The US population is about 300 million, so this is about 1 out of 3 Americans. Every time I speak in public, I survey my audiences and ask for a show of hands to discover who, directly or indirectly, has been impacted by identity theft. Invariably, 10-25% of the audience will raise their hands.

Perhaps you are amongst the lucky 2 out of 3. It seems it is just a matter of time until we are all impacted unless businesses, institutions, and governments really get serious about protecting valuable information. According to a Computer World article released on November 13th, Protecting Data Becomes Top Security Priority for IT in 2007. I humbly suggest DBI's Brother-WatchDog solution. icon_wink

Meanwhile, it seems a prudent idea to learn more about the laws enacted by each US state and consider if a credit file freeze is right for you. Unfortunately for me, Texas - as is the case with some other states - only allows a credit file freeze if I have already BEEN an identity theft victim. How STUPID is THAT?!?!?!

To find out if a credit freeze is available in your State, visit this link: www.consumersunion.org/finance/creditfreezeinfo.htm.

I hope this post is helpful to many of you readers. Feel free to add a comment and talk about your identity theft experience if you have been a victim.

Best regards,
Scott