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Special section Guarding against ID theft: myths and real stories

The credit freeze blocks most third parties from accessing your credit file. Here's how it works.

14 myths about credit freezes

In the event you lose your wallet, the credit freeze won't prevent its finder from going on a shopping spree. You'll want to report stolen cards immediately to avoid paying for fraudulent charges.

11. Credit-monitoring services won't work during a file freeze.
Actually, they will, according to Steven Katz, spokesman for TransUnion's TrueCredit.com. The service might not alert you of new accounts, however, as long as the freeze remains. The freeze should block the opening of new credit accounts where a credit check is required for approval.

12. A company can sidestep the freeze if you give written consent.
Although many definitions of a credit freeze say that no one can access a consumer's credit file without the consumer's consent, that consent means something very specific. "You have to unlock your credit report," says Rubinger. "You can't just give them written permission."

You can temporarily lift the file freeze for a minimum of three days and up to 30 days. The credit bureau will need your personal identification number and identifying information when you request the temporary thaw. The creditor who will access your file will need your PIN, as well. For more information about temporarily removing a credit freeze, visit the Web sites of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

13. Credit freezes prevent identity theft.
They should block identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name and taking out loans, but if the lender, service provider, landlord or insurance company doesn't look at your credit report, then credit could get issued in your name, utility accounts could be opened, apartments could be issued and insurance policies could be obtained in your name.

You'll still want to guard your personal information.

14. Once removed, creditors will see evidence of an old file freeze.
Once removed or lifted, credit freezes evaporate. No notation will chronicle your file's freeze. So, if a creditor denies you credit after your file has been thawed, something else may be to blame.

Have another burning question about fraud alerts or credit freezes? Ask us here.

Create a news alert for "credit freeze"
-- Posted: Nov. 13, 2006
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