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4.18.2005

Four States have Credit-Freeze Laws for Consumer Protection

I came across a column by Priscilla Post of Kiplinger's Retirement Report the other day that had some news about newer state laws that I wasn't aware of. Here's an excerpt:
The most promising developments preventing identity theft are coming from state legislatures. Four stateshave passed credit-freeze laws and, according to Consumers Union, nearly a dozen more and considering adopting similar consumer safeguards. With a credit freeze in place, your credit files are locked. Businesses and other creditors can't access your credit report and scores without your permission. When you want to unlock your file, you contact the credit bureau and provide it with your security code.

All residents of California and Louisiana can take advantage of their state's optional credit-freeze laws. In Texas, and Vermont, the right to lock a credit file is limited to consumers who have been victims of identity theft and have reported the theft to polict. (The laws in Louisiana and Vermont take effect in July.)

The 11 other states considering adopting their own credit-freeze laws are Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Mrayland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah and Washington. And lawmakers in Texas are considering giving all residents the right to use the state's credit-freeze law.


It should be noted that the large credit bureaus already have an option in place for anyone who has been a victim of identity theft to call in and have a disclaimer added to their credit report that requests that anyone considering issuing credit first contact the individual to make sure it's legitimate. It's not a real credit-freeze, but is a similar concept. The only real question I have is how this will impact people's freedoms. In today's paranoid society I can easily see an employer or creditor coming across a credit-freeze or related statement on a credit report and immdiately assuming the worst. I'm not sure how to get around that challenge, but these consumer-protection laws otherwise seem to be a pretty good idea.

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