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Have You Ever Considered Freezing Your Credit?
Old 12-20-2007, 10:12 AM   #1
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Have You Ever Considered Freezing Your Credit?

In October, DW and I made a decision to freeze our credit. We've heard too many horror stories about people who have been victims of identity theft. In California, where we used to live, they have a state law that says that if an institution has any of their consumer financial records stolen that they must notify all customers involved in writing. Over the years, we found it scary to get one of these letters, which we did on several occasions The latest one was from Fidelity where we had a retirement account. This one came in September, which made us think real hard about protecting our good credit.

I've read in the newspaper about financial institutions that have had their computer records compromised. In one of these cases in particular, an employee took his laptop home where it was later stolen. I don't think this is a good way to protect sensitive information such as social security numbers. Also, there are just too many ways criminals can get your credit information. Computer hackers have become skilled at it in recent years. There are countless stories of inside jobs as well. An example of this is where an employee of a company will sell your credit information to criminals. Owning a shredder and destroying sensitive information is simply not enough. Remember, it's easier for a dishonest person to steal your credit and obtain money illegally than it is for him/her to rob a bank. Also, police agencies are very lax in investigations of identity theft. It is simply not a high priority for them.

Some of the stories that I've read about in magazines and newspapers are very frightening. Some victims of identity theft say that they are treated by their creditors as if they were the criminal. It can take many years and countless hours of your precious time to restore your credit once you've become a victim, so we decided it just wasn't worth it to take a chance.

If you've thought about it and would like to do it, it's actually a very simple process. All you have to do is write a a letter to Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax for both you and your spouse if you're married. You need to give these credit bureaus your full name, address, social security number, a copy of your driver license, a copy of a recent utility bill and finally a check for ten dollars. In our case, we both submitted separate signed letters, as we figured it's too easy to confuse people these days. The cost was sixty dollars. We sent our letters by certified mail with a return receipt request.

In about ten days you'll receive a letter from each agency letting you know that your credit has been frozen. They will give you a password in the event that you decide to temporarily or permanently lift the freeze, which will also cost ten dollars. DW and I do not plan to apply for credit in the near future, but in the event we do, it looks like it will be a very simple process to temporarily lift the freeze. I believe two bureaus would allow you to lift the freeze online, but one required either a letter or phone call. You can do this for either a specific creditor or a specific number of days in which case multiple creditors would have access to your credit scores.

By the way, the fees are waived if you happen to become another unfortunate victim of identity theft.
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Old 12-20-2007, 01:30 PM   #2
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I guess I am a cheap SOB -- I think this is a good idea, but I'm waiting until Colorado mandates that residents be able to do it for free.

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Old 12-20-2007, 03:18 PM   #3
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I've considered it, but not yet done it. I generally agree with OP's comments. I was recently appalled at what business can do with your MEDICAL information -- legally! I think your "financial privacy" is similarly laughable. It's my opinion (but no facts at hand to support) that probably 1/3 of all identity theft is an inside job ... e.g. if I wanted the goods on somebody, working in a CPA office, mortgage office (before they all went bankrupt), etc. would be the ticket. The beauty of an identity freeze is that it may work against even many insider identity hijacks.

Also notable: many (but not all?) States allow the freeze. FL is one. First on my list is to close out some credit cards... I don't think I need all six
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Old 12-20-2007, 04:16 PM   #4
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Is that 60 bucks for a year, or for as long as you want your credit to remain frozen?
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:37 PM   #5
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It's $60 for a couple as long as you leave it frozen. There would be a $10 charge from each agency when ever you decide to temporarily or permanently lift the freeze. I would think that if you bought a car, for example, and decided to get it on credit that you could ask the lender which of the 3 credit bureaus they use and in that way you would only incur the charge once.
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:56 PM   #6
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I need to correct what I wrote in my original post. Thirty-nine states now allow for a credit freeze and the fees vary by state. In some states, people over 65 do not have to pay anything. If you click on the link below for Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports Magazine) you can get specific details for your particular state.

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Old 12-21-2007, 01:17 PM   #7
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This sort of thing drives me nuts. I have to pay money to protect myself from another companies bad system? Ranks right up there with paying for underinsured/uninsured drivers when it's a "state law" that vehicle registration requires insurance.

I'm expected to pay the credit reporting agencies to protect me from criminals?

Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe crime does pay. Time to go on an identity theft spree and drop my car insurance. The victims will pick up the tab.

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Old 12-21-2007, 06:00 PM   #8
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This sort of thing drives me nuts. I have to pay money to protect myself from another companies bad system? Ranks right up there with paying for underinsured/uninsured drivers when it's a "state law" that vehicle registration requires insurance.
-CC
No kidding. This totally blows. This is *MY* personal information that *YOU* are selling for profit and I need to pay *YOU* protection money to stop from getting screwed??!

If I wasn't so freaking lazy I would write my congressman about this.
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Old 12-21-2007, 06:20 PM   #9
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I agree with the Retire Soon. Think about your time to correct ID theft and misery you will experience. We froze our accounts. Could still open up a new credit card account at the credit union by just calling and coordinating with them and the credit agency. One of the 3 agencies does not charge to temporarily unfreeze (don't remember which one right now).
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Old 12-22-2007, 02:51 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by lsbcal View Post
I agree with the Retire Soon. Think about your time to correct ID theft and misery you will experience. We froze our accounts. Could still open up a new credit card account at the credit union by just calling and coordinating with them and the credit agency. One of the 3 agencies does not charge to temporarily unfreeze (don't remember which one right now).
Our state only allows those people who are victims of identity theft to get a freeze on their accounts. Thanks to the link posted by Retire Soon, I see that will be changing in 2008.

We were victims of ID theft a little over a year ago but I didn't go and put a freeze on our accounts right then. I'm really sorry that I didn't. This is the second time it has happened to us and it is a royal pain to get everything straightened out again. When our state finally allows us to freeze our accounts next year, I'm going to do it this time!

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Old 01-12-2008, 04:18 AM   #11
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Ah, I'd like to do this. But I have no way to provide a current utility bill from Florida to show current residence. I have a FL street address but that's through my mail forwarding company and I have a FL telephone number, but that's through Skype, so no bill with address to show. And I see no provision for folks residing overseas. Hmmmmm. Must be a way.
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