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Does your state allow credit freezes?

Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, reports that 35 states and the District of Columbia have credit freeze laws on their books that will allow any consumer to freeze their files, and four states have laws that will grant credit freezes to ID theft victims.

Does your state allow credit freezes?
*The law in Oregon will take effect Oct. 1, 2007; in Maryland and Tennessee Jan. 1, 2008; in Massachusetts Feb. 3, 2008; in Washington Sept. 1, 2008; and in Utah Sept. 1, 2008.
*The law in Arkansas will take effect on Jan. 1, 2008.
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The cost of a security freeze varies from state to state. The cost to thaw a frozen credit file also varies from state to state.

However, most states do offer the freeze free of charge if you can prove you have been a victim of identity theft.

Generally, to place a credit freeze on your file, you must provide via certified mail, the following information, to each of the three major national credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax:

  • Full name: First name, middle name, last name, Jr., etc.
  • Current home address and addresses for past two years, Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Payment by check, money order or credit card. You will be asked to verify the name, account number and expiration date on the credit card.
  • Copy of your driver's license, military ID card or other government-issued ID card.
  • Copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement.
  • Copy of the investigative report, police report or complaint filed with a law enforcement agency if you're a victim.

Imposing a freeze can be free or cost up to $20. Lifting it can also come free or cost up to $20. Credit bureaus must place a freeze no later than five business days after receiving a written request. Each of the credit bureaus will send you a personal identification number, or PIN. You will also get instructions on how to lift the freeze. Each state regulates its credit-freeze laws differently, so make sure to read the freezing instructions particular to your state.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: Sept. 25, 2007
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