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Equifax Details Credit Freeze Plans

Big three credit reporting bureau Equifax on Wednesday detailed its plan to offer certain consumers the ability to freeze their credit files as a means of preventing identity theft. The offering provides a clearer picture of how the credit bureaus are likely to deploy this process.

Earlier this month, the other two credit bureaus -- Experian and TransUnion -- said they would offer credit-freeze rights to consumers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In announcing its program, Equifax said that beginning Oct. 31 it would start offering credit freezes to consumers in the 11 states (and Puerto Rico) where there currently are no security freeze laws in place. In those areas, the company plans to charge consumers $10 to place, thaw or remove credit freezes, while offering them for free to confirmed identity theft victims.

For consumers in the 39 other states (and D.C.), Equifax will continue to offer the credit freeze opportunities that are afforded to them under the rules set by those states, the company said.

While it would appear that consumers in all 50 states and D.C. will soon have credit freeze rights, there are four states -- Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota -- that only offer freezes to confirmed ID theft victims.

Equifax and the other bureaus will still require consumers to apply for freezes using certified mail, which adds additional costs and hassle to the process while providing no additional security or authentication (the U.S. Postal Service doesn't check your ID when you send certified mail).

Equifax is using the credit freeze offering as an opportunity to upsell consumers. The company said that U.S. consumers who purchase its Credit Watch monitoring service, which costs between $5 and $10 a month, will be able to freeze and unfreeze their credit files online.

It's not clear whether this is the same approach that Experian and TransUnion will adopt. But Jeannine Kenney, a senior policy analyst with Consumers Union, said it is likely that the other two will follow suit.

Kenney said it's also likely that consumers in a handful of states that charge more than $10 for placing, lifting or removing a freeze will not be able take advantage of the lower fees offered by the credit bureaus.

Security Fix will be monitoring the rollout of these services during the next couple of weeks, and will walk users through the various hoops they need to jump through to understand and/or exercise their credit-freeze rights.

By Brian Krebs  |  October 25, 2007; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Fraud , Safety Tips  
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Comments

Bran,

TransUnion is already using a similar plan to Equifax and offering online access to credit freezes through their existing online ID protection service TrueCredit. TrueCredit is $14.95 month and offers credit reports, scores, freezes and more.

I expect Experian to do that same. Requiring certified mail or even telephone is an obstacle for consumers. For those that are motivated enough to go online and setup a freeze, the credit reporting companies will see a nice incremental revenue gain.

Tom Fragala
CEO, Truston
http://www.mytruston.com

Posted by: Tom Fragala | October 25, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse


Fees? Ridiculous.

Federal law should cripple these profiteers.

Forget that, under Bush, and the Dems lack the wieners and intellect to do much better.

Enjoy Coporation America!

Posted by: Coporation America | October 26, 2007 4:24 AM | Report abuse

Brian,
The following statement in your recent blog entry is incorrect"

"Equifax and the other bureaus will still require consumers to apply for freezes using certified mail, which adds additional costs and hassle to the process while providing no additional security or authentication (the U.S. Postal Service doesn't check your ID when you send certified mail)."

TransUnion does not require a consumer's request for a security freeze to come via certified mail. For educational information on TransUnion's security freeze program, please visit the following link:

http://www.transunion.com/corporate/personal/fraudIdentityTheft/preventing/securityFreeze.page?

Clifton M. O'Neal
Sr. Director, Public Relations
TransUnion

Posted by: Clifton O'Neal | October 26, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Just think about it...a company collects your personal information without your permission and supplies it to another company for a fee again without your consent. Then, someone illegally gets the information and uses it to steal money from you through identity theft. Instead of the credit company taking responsibility for its actions and improving its security measures or perhaps even compensating the individual for its incompetence, it finds a way to make even more money by charging a fee to protect the information thereby making it your responsibility. I'm not a big fan of lawyers but it sounds to me like it's time for a class action suit against these folks.

Posted by: tired of being ripped-off | October 26, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Hello Clifton. Thanks for stopping by. From your comment, readers might get the impression that TransUnion has never required certified letters, but that of course is not the case. When did TransUnion change its policy?

Posted by: Bk | October 26, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

The fraud guys can be defeated if we make identity theft a death penalty offense! (except for fake blogging that is)

Posted by: Steve Ballmer | October 28, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Credit Reports are unconstitutional and are in place to promote corrupt usury practices that were seen in the mortgage melt down. Credit Bureaus are a function of the big banks and should be not allowed to operate. The 4th Amendment protects Americans from keeping any kind of data files on them. As long as America allows creditors to override the Consitution and step on the poor, America will deserve anykind of recession and depression it gets.

Posted by: preich1 | October 28, 2007 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Credit Reports are a violation of the 4th Amendment. They are used by the big bank to procure American usury. As long as America continues to violate the Constitution they can expect whatever they get in terms of a severe recession and depression.

Posted by: preich1 | October 28, 2007 5:50 AM | Report abuse

I understand that these three credit bureaus provide a valuable service to consumers and businesses and that they are in business themselves. However, I find it appalling that they can sell my information at-will unless (1) I'm the proven victim of ID theft (too late -- the damage has already been done) or (2) I pay them a fee to protect my data. (Note: I, however, wouldn't mind the credit bureau charging a modest fee to others for accessing my records WITH my permission.)

This is, especially in the case of number two, extortion in my book.

It's just too bad that I don't have a way of telling them to just destroy all of my information and I'll handle the inquiries myself.

Posted by: ivangroznii | October 29, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

@FakeSteveBallmer -- I'd suggest omitting your anonymous blog URL the next time you post. I've already removed all of your self-promoting links, and I'm *this* close to banning you from commenting.

Posted by: Bk | October 29, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

So do I have to arrange for a credit freeze with all three services?

Posted by: Ray Panko | October 30, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

@Ray -- Yes, if you want a freeze, you'll have to contact each of the three bureaus separately.

Which is another potentially confusing part about all of this. You can currently place a fraud alert on your credit file for 90 days, and whichever credit bureau you contact is required to notify the other two, which have to then place an alert on your file as well. That is not the case with these credit freezes.

Posted by: Bk | October 30, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET SOMEONE TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT THIS FOR SOMETIME NOW. I GET FEDEX EMAILS, YES THEY EVEN USE FEDEX SO YOU WILL OPEN IT TO RECEIVE A SO CALLED WALMART $500 GIFT CERTIFICATE. THEY PRETEND TO BE DIFFERENT SPONSORS AND THEY LOCK UP YOUR COMPUTER WHEN YOU TRY TO TURN THEM IN. I AM 56 YR. OLD AND THIS SO CALLED OPINION SPONSOR HAS DONE ALOT OF DAMAGE TO ME! PLEASE HELP....
leothemangylion@comcast.net

Posted by: BILLIE NEARHOOF | November 22, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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