As of November 1st, 2007, you can now "Freeze Your Consumer Credit Bureau Files" in all fifty states. However, all state laws are not treated equally. To learn what your state freeze laws are, go to this link provided by Consumer Union:
SPECIAL NOTE FROM THE "2006 IDENTITY THEFT REPORT" (Source: Federal Trade Commission and Synovate, dated November 2007). According to this report, 74% of all ID Theft Victims DID NOT CONTACT POLICE. Of the remaining 26% who reported the crime to police, 19% of that group had NO REPORT taken by the police.
To make matters worse, relatively few "Victims of Identity Theft" took advantage of the fraud alert system or the "Consumer Credit Freeze Law" provisions of their respective states. Approximately 7.0% placed fraud alerts and 7.0% froze their credit files.
To all the consumers that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on "Credit Monitoring Services" over the past three or four years, the next statistic will be troublesome. Only 11.0% of "How Victims Discovered ID Theft", was discovered by these credit monitoring services. According to Consumer Union and other consumer advocate professionals, credit monitoring is not an effective deterrent against stopping "Identity Theft" involving your three national credit bureau agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) reporting systems. By the time you are notified by the credit monitoring services, the "Identity Thieves" have already did their damage. Furthermore, "Fraud Alerts" (Good for 90 days only, must be renewed) does not stop predatory lenders and creditors from granting credit in your name, especially when there is a high commission for them, once the loan is approved.
The only way to stop "Identity Thieves" from accessing your credit files is to "FREEZE YOUR CREDIT FILES".
Please join Consumer Union and our organizations national efforts in passing a "Federal ID Theft Freeze Law" that is uniform across all fifty states. We want it to be low cost to freeze ($5 or less), low cost to unfreeze (Free), mandated "Temporary Quick Thaw Provisions Via Telephone" (15 minutes), and mandated "Creditor Specific Provision" (i.e., Sprint PCS Only) to make it easier for all American Consumers to protect themselves from "Identity Theft".
OVERVIEW OF NEW TEXAS FREEZE LAW
All Texas consumers now have a way to protect unwanted access to their consumer credit bureau files.Effective September 1st, 2007, the new law allows all Texas consumers to “Freeze Their Credit Bureau Files”.What this means is, you freeze (lock up) your credit bureau report files and once your files are frozen, only you and your current creditors have access to your credit bureau files.Anyone trying to access your credit files without your knowledge will receive a code or notation that states, “Credit file frozen due to state legislation”.
This legislation also includes an amendment that allows Texas consumers who have frozen their credit files to temporarily unfreeze (Thaw Out or Re-Open) their credit files for a short period to gain access to credit (i.e., Cell Phone, Auto) via telephone.By using the freeze security codes provided by the credit bureaus and other identifying information to verify the identity of the caller, the credit bureaus must unfreeze your files within 15 minutes during normal business hours.Another provision that is included in this legislation allows the consumer the option to be creditor specific (i.e., Sprint PCS).In other words, only Sprint PCS can pull your credit file.Once they pull you credit file, it refreezes automatically.
SPECIAL NOTE: ALL TEXAS RESIDENTS FOURTEEN (14) YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER CAN FREEZE THEIR CREDIT BUREAU FILES. SINCE APPROXIMATELY 400,000 CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN (18-Legal Age of Consent) ARE "VICTIMS OF IDENTITY THEFT EACH YEAR" (Source: Federal Trade Commission-FTC), IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT ALL CHILDREN BETWEEN THE AGES OF 14 AND 18 FREEZE THEIR CREDIT FILES.
STEP BY STEP PROCEDURES ON HOW TO FREEZE YOUR FILES
BEFORE YOU START the process of freezing your credit bureau files at Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, these items must be done before you send the required documents and freeze letters to each credit bureau.
1. Review the two PDF'S below. SB222 is the new law and the amendment deals with the two special provisions, the "15 Minute Quick Thaw Provision" and the "Creditor Specific Provision". Both of these provisions are accessible by phone.
2. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and run your credit reports. These reports are free at this web site not unless you have accessed this web site in the last 12 months. If you have, then you will have to pay the fees to run them. Run each bureau separately. Do not select the three-in-one reports because most people still have to go to each credit bureau to get individual reports. We have received numerous complaints about people paying for the 3-in-1 reports and not getting all of them. They had to pay again for the reports that were missing directly with the individual credit bureau. What a mess.
3. Review each credit bureau report thoroughly. Pay special attention to names and the way they are spelled. Review all employment history on credit file. Review all addresses and make sure you have lived at those locations. Since Texas is a community property state, make sure your credit file only list your current spouse (if divorced, widowed, or widower) and make sure they do not show your wife's social security number on your file and your SSN on your wife's credit file. Delete any names, addresses, or work history that appears on your files that are not yours.
4. If by running your credit reports, it appears you are a "Victims of Identity Theft", you need to file a police report ASAP in your home town (or your home address). It doesn't matter where the crime was committed, the police must take a report (No Cross-Jurisdictional Issues in Texas) in Texas.
5. Go to our "Solutions Page" on this web site and contact the various federal agencies via phone to report the crime (i.e., FTC, FCC if it involves a cell phone, etc.).
6. Contact our organization via E-Mail for assistance if needed by going to our "Contact Page".
Click on C.U. Logo To Get Security Freeze Information For Texas
THIS IS HOW IT WORKS
A security freeze lets consumers stop thieves from getting credit in their names. A security freeze locks, or freezes, access to the consumer credit report and credit score.
Without this information, a business will not issue new credit to a thief. When the consumer wants to get new credit, he or she uses a PIN to unlock access to the credit file. Texas now gives all of its consumers (Texas Residents) this important weapon to prevent identity theft.
SPECIAL NOTE: Instruction For Using The New Texas Freeze Law provided by Consumer Union does not included the "Special Provisions" that are outlined in the "Amendment To SB222" that was effective September 1, 2007. Click on the PDF file below that is labeled "Amendment" and print it off for your reference tool (1 page).
If you have trouble accessing the PDF file from Consumer Union or the PDF file on the Amendment via the logo or the PDF Icons, then your can reach the data from these link:
WE WANT STRONGER FEDERAL PRIVACY LAWS PASSED NOW FOR ALL AMERICAN
WE WANT STRONG FINANCIAL PRIVACY NOW!!!
The data privacy debate is cooking up in the Senate. Tell your Senators to support only the strongest financial privacy protection legislation! Two bills have passed out of their committees: S. 495 from the Senate Judiciary Committee and S. 1178 from the Senate Commerce Committee.
Your Senators needs to know that you want to be notified when your personal information has gone missing, that you want the option of an easy-to-use, low cost security freeze tool, and you want more control over your financial privacy. Send your Senators a message now!