Identity theft is a nightmare for victims, and can often be so damaging to someone’s credit that repairing the credit is virtually impossible. Currently, 25 states have enacted legislation that give all or some consumers the right to prevent identity theft by placing a security freeze on their credit reports. This topic was recently discussed in an article by David Bauerlein. Basically, credit freezing entails issuing a secret PIN number to the consumer that must be presented to the credit bureau to “thaw” the credit report.
Amazingly, individual states must enact identity theft protection legislation to FORCE the major credit bureaus to provide this level of protection to consumers, and in order to enact a credit freeze, you must pay a fee, unless you have been the victim of identity theft. You may ask why credit bureaus do not offer such protection without being required by state governments. Credit bureaus argue that credit freezing is ineffective, inconvenient and can actually increase the likelihood of identity theft.
U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), provides an updated list of State Breach and Freeze Laws. Check the status of your state’s legislation there. Additionally, Equifax provides an easy to read state chart.