Every single day in America there are cases of identity theft reported. Luxuries of this information age increase exposure of social security numbers and other personal information, making us highly susceptible to identity theft.
A security freeze is also known as a credit freeze. Security freeze is the lock-down of data initiated by the consumer reporting agency on instructions from the owner. This allows the consumer to monitor his/her data and authorize or decline its access by companies or individuals who request the information. These Consumer monitoring agencies now work hand-in-hand with state laws and industry-regulated rules to minimize incidents of financial identity theft.
Identity theft peaks the list of FTC complaint in 2014 making it the leading complaints for 15 consecutive years now. It forms 13% of the complaints in 2014 only as stated by the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Research conducted in March, 2015 by the Javelin Strategy and Research indicates that in 2014 only, 16 billion dollars were stolen as a result of identity theft from 12.7 million consumers in the U.S. The “Chronology Data Breach” document indicates that since January 2015, 844 million identity records have been compromised.
- These alarming statistics compel security freeze actions which go a long way in protecting private financial identity and data.
- Security freeze also works by restricting new creditors from accessing your history and hence can be accessed only if the freeze is lifted by the owner.
However, even with a security freeze certain entities will still have access to your information. Such entities are existing creditors and loan collectors acting on their behalf, and government agencies through a court order or a subpoena.
Place a Security Freeze
To place a credit freeze, you should contact each and every nationwide credit reporting company and give them your name , date of birth, address, social security number and other personal information at a small fee, depending on the state laws of where you live. Some states waive the fees to victims of identity theft. The monitoring companies are:
- Equifax – 1-800-349-9960
- Experian – 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion – 1-888-909-8872
When you freeze your file, you are not eligible for credits from new companies and some jobs application processes also require that information hence you have to drop the freeze each time you apply for a loan or a job.
Security freezes are not shared by the separate consumer reporting companies hence you have to freeze your credit with each of them. The credit freeze states up, but you can drop the freeze temporarily or permanently whenever you wish. You will however need the pin that you are given upon placement of the credit freeze so make sure it is kept safe in your records. Free annual credit reports will not stop coming due to the freeze.
Federal laws are being considered by the House of Representatives and the Senate. these laws may provide a national standard and preempt the state laws. These laws are generally strongly supported by the consumer advocacy organizations and opposed by the financial services companies.