On Thursday Oct 4th Experian became the last of the Big Three credit reporting agencies to announce, in a press release, that the company would offer the security freeze (the most effective tool in fighting new account fraud) to all consumers nationwide, DC and in the US territories. Experian’s press release stated that the company would begin the program on November 1st of 2007.
TransUnion announced on September 18 that the company would begin offering the security freeze to all on October 15, 2007. Equifax soon followed announcing on September 21st that they too would offer the security freeze to all consumers but did not release the details or an exact start date.
Devil in the Details: A credit freeze with Experian or TransUnion, unless otherwise mandated by state law, will cost consumers $10 to place, $10 to temporarily un-freeze or lift and another $10 to permanently remove the freeze. Do it Yourself, for $14.95? TransUnion included in their announcement a new fee for service product, TrueCredit Lock. TrueCredit Lock is basically a do it yourself service for $14.95 per month that includes the ability for subscribers to instantly freeze and un-freeze their credit files online. Consumers Union advises against paying a high, monthly fee for this simple service.
Left out of the announcements by the Big Three was that, thanks to the efforts of consumer advocacy organizations such as Consumers Union, 39 states and the District of Columbia already have security freeze laws on the books. Consumers Union encourages the Big Three to make the freeze easy for consumers to place. This means allowing consumers to place a freeze on their credit files by telephone and over a secure internet communication. The temporary lift should take effect within 15 minutes and should be kept to a low fee to place of $5 and $5 to lift.