Thursday, October 22, 2009

F3, ID Theft Info

  • AnnualCreditReport.com - Official site for ordering your free credit reports. This site has links to the 3 agencies, Equifax, Experian, & Trans Union
  • Note this is the ONLY official site. There are many "bogus" sites with similar names that will charge you money for this.
  • FinancialPrivacyNow.org - Consumer's Union site with info about how to FREEZE your credit report. (Contents partially copied as 'Article 2' below.)
Article 1-The Great Identity Freeze



The following article is used with permission of The Williamsport Guardian WilliamsportGuardian.com Aug-Sept 2007 issue, Page 5. (permission granted 9/11/07)




Pennsylvania is one of 37 states with a security freeze law that prevents identity theft. As of January 1, 2007, you can freeze your credit report so that even if thieves get your name and Social Security number, they can’t open a credit card in your name.

You need to send letters to all three credit reporting companies (after all, this is America and we must have our corporate competition, even when all it brings us is more paperwork): Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. Then you get a PIN number that allows you to unfreeze your credit report whenever you want.

The service is free to seniors 65 and older or anyone who’s been a victim of identity theft (you need to have a copy of the police report). It’s $10 for everyone else to place the freeze or lift it temporarily; it’s free to remove the freeze. A freeze expires automatically after 7 years.

It’s not as easy as it should be, and it’s not federal law yet, but it’s a start.
For more information, see www.FinancialPrivacyNow.org.

Tell your Congressperson to support H.R. 3046, which would stop the widespread and unnecessary sale, purchase and displaying of Social Security Numbers by government and businesses that has made consumers more vulnerable to identity theft. No one should have your Social Security number except you, your employer, and the government.



Article 2-
Security Freeze Information



(copied from www.FinancialPrivacyNow.org, at page
http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more/003484indiv.html#PA
8/8/07 )
(The below article downloads as a PDF document.)
Note there are 4 more pages (including sample letters) in the PDF document that are not included below.

Any consumer in Pennsylvania may place a security freeze on his or her credit report by requesting one in writing by certified mail to the credit reporting agency. The credit reporting agency is not allowed to charge a fee to victims or seniors 65 years of age or older for placing, removing for a specific period or party, or removing a security freeze on a credit report. To avoid a fee, the victim must send a valid copy of a police report to the credit reporting agency.

However, for other consumers, a charge of $10 will be applied for each placing or temporary lifting of a security freeze. There is no fee to remove the freeze. A security freeze shall prohibit, with certain specific exceptions, the credit reporting agency from releasing the consumer’s credit report or any information from it without the express authorization of the consumer. The freeze goes into effect five (5) business days from receipt of the consumer’s letter by the credit reporting agency.


To obtain more detailed information on how to place a security freeze on your credit reports, see below.

HOW TO “FREEZE” YOUR CREDIT FILES

A security freeze means that your file cannot be shared with potential creditors . A security freeze can help prevent identity theft . Most businesses will not open credit accounts without checking a consumer’s credit history first . If your credit files are frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security number probably would not be able to obtain credit in your name . A security freeze is free to identity theft victims who have a police report . A freeze on your account is good for 7 years in Pennsylvania .

How do I place a security freeze?

To place a freeze, you must send by certified mail a letter to each consumer reporting agency requesting a security freeze be placed on your account . In this letter you must provide identifying information and a $10 fee, but, if you are a victim or, you must also include a copy of your police report to avoid a charge paying a $10 fee . Seniors who are at least 65 years old also do not need to pay to place a security freeze . (In the future, it will be possible to place a freeze through a secure electronic connection—likely by sending an e-mail on the consumer reporting agency’s website.)

Write to all three addresses below and include the information that follows:

Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

Trans Union Security Freeze
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

For each, you must:
• Send a letter by certified mail;
• If you are a victim, include a copy of your the police report concerning identity theft;
• Provide your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.,) address,
Social Security number, and date of birth;
• If you have moved in the past 5 years, supply the addresses where you have lived over
the prior 5 years.
• Provide proof of current address such as a current utility bill or phone bill
• Send a photocopy of a government issued identification card (state driver’s license or ID
card, military identification, etc.)
• If applicable, include a payment by check, money order or credit card (Visa, Master Card,
American Express, and Discover cards only.)

How long does it take for a security freeze to be in effect?

After five (5) business days from receiving your letter, the credit reporting agencies listed above
will place a freeze providing credit reports to potential creditors.

After 10 business days from receiving your letter to place a freeze on your account, the credit
reporting agencies will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal
identification number) or password. Keep this PIN or password in a safe place.

Can I open new credit accounts if my files are frozen?

Yes. You can have a security freeze lifted for a temporary period of time or with a specific
creditor. The steps to do so are as follows:

• Contact the credit reporting agencies above by certified mail or by a toll-free phone
number they are required by law to create.
• You must provide proper identification;
• You must provide your unique PIN or password; AND
• To lift the freeze for a period of time, you must provide the time period your credit report
will be accessible to third parties OR to lift for a specific creditor, you must indicate
which creditor you will grant access to your credit files.

How long does it take for a security freeze to be lifted?

Credit bureaus must lift a freeze no later than three (3) business days from receiving your
request.

What will a creditor who requests my file see if it is frozen?

A creditor will see a message or a code indicating the file is frozen.

Can a creditor get my credit score if my file is frozen?

No. A creditor who requests your file from one of the three credit bureaus will only get a
message or a code indicating that the file is frozen.

Can I order my own credit report if my file is frozen?

Yes.

Can anyone see my credit file if it is frozen?

When you have a security freeze on your credit file, certain entities still have access to it. Your
report can still be released to your existing creditors or to collection agencies acting on their own
behalf. They can use it to review or collect on your account. Other creditors may also use your
information to make offers of credit. Government agencies may also have access in response to
a court or administrative order, a subpoena, or a search warrant.

Do I have to freeze my file with all three credit bureaus?

Yes. Different credit issuers may use different credit bureaus. If you want to stop your credit
file from being viewed, you must freeze it with Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.

Will a freeze lower my credit score?

No.

Can an employer do a background check on my credit file?

No. You would have to lift the freeze to allow a background check, just as you would to apply
for credit. The process for lifting the freeze is described above.

How long will a security freeze be in effect?

A security freeze will end after 7 years from the date you placed it.

Does freezing my file mean that I won’t receive pre-approved credit offers?

No. You can stop the pre-approved credit offers by calling 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688). Or
you can do this online at www.optoutprescreen.com. This will stop most of the offers, the ones
that go through the credit bureaus. It’s good for five years or you can make it permanent.

What law requires security freezes?

The law on security freezes in Pennsylvania passed as Senate Bill 180.

THIS FACT SHEET IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND SHOULD NOT BE
CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE OR AS THE POLICY OF THE STATE OF
PENNSYLVANIA. IF YOU WANT ADVICE ON A PARTICULAR CASE, YOU SHOULD
CONSULT AN ATTORNEY OR OTHER EXPERT. THE FACT SHEET MAY BE COPIED,
IF (1) THE MEANING OF THE COPIED TEXT IS NOT CHANGED OR
MISREPRESENTED, (2) CREDIT IS GIVEN TO THE OFFICE OF THE PENNSYLVANIA
ATTORNEY GENERAL, AND (3) ALL COPIES ARE DISTRIBUTED FREE OF CHARGE.

Note there are 4 more pages
(including sample letters) in the PDF document that are not included here.


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This page updated 9/19/07 by
JamesRobertIngram.com

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