Saturday, May 03, 2008

Freeze! Or should we?

One of the looming questions regarding finances I have is whether to not to freeze our credit reports. We don't get new loans or credit cards ever really, so that wouldn't be a problem at all. So, a credit security freeze may help prevent identity theft since if someone stole our identity, they wouldn't be able to go to a company who pulls our credit report to give us a card or a loan. There are a couple outstanding issues:

1) How often will we have to unfreeze our credit report for non-debt items?
2) How much theft does this prevent? I understand there are some credit companies that don't look at credit reports.
3) Is it overall worth the $30/person to freeze the reports when we will have to also pay $10 for each temporary unfreeze.

Some of these issues are covered in this USA today article. There, Sandra says:

Many consumers are unaware of how often their credit histories are reviewed. Even if you don't plan to borrow money, you might need to suspend a credit freeze to get an insurance policy, utility service, an apartment, or even a job. If you lose your cellphone, your provider probably won't give you a new one until it verifies your credit.

I recently saw this when calling my company's HR solution to add our new baby girl. To verify my identity because I typed in my pass code incorrectly, they asked me for some information to confirm my identity which they only could have pulled from my credit report like a previous address from years ago. What would they do if my credit report was frozen? Would they deny my request to change my health care coverage?

Even when planning ahead, do you remove the freeze on all 3 reporting agencies or try to figure out which agency the company you are working with uses?

The state of North Carolina also has some good information here at their site They do suggest freezing your credit to protect yourself. They also have some other suggests which I thought were good recommendations.

Of the major credit reporting agencies, only one allows you to initiate a freeze online. That one provider is Experian whereas others like TransUnion and Equifax require mailed in letters. Equifax seems to be pushing you to use their monthly credit security services instead with a minimum monthly payment of $9/person.

The good news is that they all take credit cards :-)

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