Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Security Your Rights Online

TransUnion to Offer Credit Freezes Nationwide 174

Posted by samzenpus
from the invisible-credit-score dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a little-noticed press release issued Tuesday, credit reporting bureau TransUnion said it would begin offering credit freezes to all Americans, a change the belies the credit industry's oft-uttered claim that doing so would be too expensive and burdensome. The program takes effect Oct. 15, 2007, will cost $10 each to place and to remove, and request and must be filed by certified mail. As The Washington Post reports, the move comes as some 39 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws entitling their residents to credit freeze rights. The new right may have little benefit unless the other two major credit reporting bureaus follow suit, and both companies are staying mum about any plans to do so. In May, Slashdot examined a related story on the credit bureaus' traditional resistance to freeze laws."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

TransUnion to Offer Credit Freezes Nationwide

Comments Filter:
  • Confused... (Score:2, Interesting)

    I must have missed something... but how does freezing your credit history help with identity theft? And doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a credit history? I mean a history is used to determine if I pose a credit risk to the lender...

    1) I ask to freeze my credit history
    2) My history is frozen
    3) ???
    4) profit

    Anybody able to distill this into simple terms for us?

    • Re:Confused... (Score:4, Informative)

      by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:00PM (#20676079) Homepage Journal
      it helps when it keeps the people who stole your identity from opening more accounts
    • by glwtta (532858)
      I'm assuming it's a temporary thing designed to limit the damage done to your history as a result of identity theft. I would assume that it would have to be in the unfrozen state for you to accomplish something that requires a credit check (eg apply for a mortgage).
      • Re:Confused... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sowth (748135) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @11:38PM (#20677223) Journal

        How can this be? You need a registered letter to freeze the account, yet a telephone call from your identity thief will "thaw" your account within 15 minutes and allow him/her to run wild with your credit again...

        I don't see how this will do anything to slow or stop this kind of fraud.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          With Experian, you are given a 10-digit PIN which you must provide in addition to the other identifying information (full name, SSN, DOB, confirmation # of a recently purchased report) in order to thaw your report.

          Basically, this service allows you to selectively decide whether you want somebody to pull your Experian report. Your report is typically pulled when applying for new credit, undergoing background checks, apply for insurance, marketers looking for candidates to send Balance-Transfer offers, etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by EllisDees (268037)
        I had my identity stolen about three years ago and as a result, I put a 7 year freeze on my credit reports. What this means is that if I request any kind of credit, or if someone else does so in my name, the company offering the credit has to call me and verify that I am making the request before it can be opened. There is really no reason to "unfreeze" your credit under any circumstance, and IMHO this should be the default behavior for giving credit.
    • Re:Confused... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:03PM (#20676099)
      1) I ask to freeze my credit history
      2) My history is frozen
      3) ???
      4) profit


      3a) identity thief attempts to open an account in my name
      3b) identity thief fails to guess the secret password needed to mail in and unlock my account
      3c) identity thief's credit line is denied.
      3d) my credit record is safe, allowing me to unlock the credit when I actually do need it and...

      In simple terms, it makes sure nobody else can attach lines of credit to you. The credit bureaus hate this because every time someone verifies your credit, they make $50 or so, which means that they have a financial interest in making sure as many people as possible can access your credit as often as possible. If they only made money when people were legitimately applying for a credit card or a mortgage, they'd never be able to pay their CEO the millions of dollars he deserves.
      • by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:45PM (#20676439) Homepage Journal
        1) Lobby Congress with many millions of dollars over many years so that your industry, an entirely artificial creation of oligopolies over which you have no influence, can fuck up your life with their piss poor security and even random errors in their "system" 2) Watch as consumers get their lives fucked up when bad guys exploit an entirely different but also screwed up monopoly that entered your life and over which you have no control or influence (Windows) 3) Charge people a fee every time they need to "start" and "stop" your "service" to protect them from item 2 4) Profit!
      • Ah, dammit, so *that's* what comes before "Profit!" THANK YOU! It finally makes sense now!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Alpha830RulZ (939527)
        I don't think this is accurate. This should increase the value of a credit score for the purchasers of credit scores, which are companies that lend money. This is a clear marker for a fraudulent loan application, which is one of the two precise things that lenders want to discover as they are processing a loan application (the other being a customer who is real, but nonetheless defaults on the loan). Credit Bureaus get money for returning a score for an account, generally about 10 cents a score. It doesn
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lena_10326 (1100441)
      stoolpigeon is right, but also it could be used as a preventive measure. Let's say you buy your house and you won't need to open any accounts for several years. You freeze your account so no one can open an account under your name and SSN. The thieves could have all your info but it wouldn't do any good, unless they find a way to unfreeze your account, but they wouldn't know your account was frozen. They'd only know you were denied credit (if it's implemented right). Also, it would be an undesirable expense
      • right. i'm sure that's part of why they resist. among other reasons stated here. basically, if switching back and forth isn't too onerous, i'd lock mine and leave it locked until i needed something. and then i'd find out which service will be used and just unlock the one(s) i need. then maybe they'd quit bugging me at target about being approved for a credit card. and maybe i'd quit getting all that mail from american express and the others. (though i don't know if they mail those out prior to doing
        • Re:Confused... (Score:4, Informative)

          by karmatic (776420) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:36PM (#20676373)
          If you want to stop all the pre-screen credit card offers, opt out [optoutprescreen.com].
          • Thank you. Very helpful.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ObjetDart (700355)
            I tried 2 different ways to stop the torrent of pre-approved credit card offers I was receiving in the mail:

            1. Called the companies up and, after wasting endless time in the phone system, finally found someone who claimed to be able to remove me from the mailing list. This had no noticeable effect.

            2. Started mailing back every single offer with "PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM YOUR LIST" scrawled across the acceptance form, in their own postage-paid reply envelopes. This was wildly successful. The mail stoppe

      • by swb (14022) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:10PM (#20676615)
        It goes deeper than that. Companies you have credit with will extend you more credit than you think you have (often in the form of higher limits) not just because they like you, but because it can actually lower your credit score by making you more "at risk" for being in debt because you have access to credit.

        This helps, say, your credit card issuer because you'll get fewer or less lucrative offers to switch to other cards because you are higher risk, but it also means you might pay a higher interest rate on things you DO want to buy on credit (like a car).

        If you can freeze your credit, credit issuers can't silently over-credit you and drive up your cost of credit at the same time.

        IMHO, the credit "industry" is a major racket which only appears to be a marketplace; the customers of the credit reporting clearinghouses are the lenders, and the lenders benefit from lower credit ratings and scores by being able to charge higher interest rates. The credit clearinghouses have ZERO incentive to have accurate records, fair correction policies or transparent scoring algorithms; their customer, the lenders, benefit from consumer-unfriendly policies through both higher interest rates and lender-leaning policies that treat borrowers suspiciously.

        I don't know, but I've often speculated that the mortgage crisis, which is actually a bad-lending-policy crisis, happened because some renegade lenders figured out several years ago that the clearinghouses were manipulating data against consumers grossly enough that a market was being denied credit generally unfairly. Of course this blossomed into a get-rich-quick real estate bubble, but the technical origins were in our "traditional" credit markets being lender-skewed by the reporting agencies and non-traditional lenders exploiting this gap.

        I'd like to see MUCH greater regulation of the reporting agencies, including mandating transparency of records (eg, I get access to everything you share/sell about me in whatever format you package it in), record freezing, banning scoring (force lenders to make decisions based on actual borrowing and payment histories) or at least making the scoring process totally transparent and subject to regulation (ie, queries alone can't lower your score, scoring only based on borrwing and payment histories), requiring a simpler challenge process with the burden of proof greatly shifted to lenders (eg, electronic-only records not in consumers favor MUST be removed if challenges, lenders must provide non-electronic proof of discrepencies, etc).

        I'd also like to see credit reporting ONLY available to lenders, not to employers or landlords or anyone else not extending credit trying to judge personality or whatever they use it for.

        Its just amazing how little control we have over our credit dossiers and how much influence it has over many details of life. You can get caught raping a 10 year old and win a million dollar settlement if the cop who arrests you even THINKS about smacking you, yet even if you're the best credit consumer in the world you can get dicked over by the credit reporting agencies with only the weakest of "rights" available to you.

        • by GizmoToy (450886) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:32PM (#20676801) Homepage
          Credit freezes would have no effect on pre-existing credit. This would not stop anyone from raising your credit card limits as access to your credit report is not required to do so. They can, and usually will, provide limits increases based solely upon your previous spending habits and payment history.

          I frequently read through CreditBoards, and while having a lot of available credit could conceivably hurt you, actually being denied for having too much credit is pretty rare and seems to only apply to mortgages. In this case, the loan officer will instruct you to close some tradelines before they will proceed. This practice hardly seem predatory, especially given the multitude of other huge problems with the CRA system.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          You've made some interesting points, and generally speaking I'd agree with you about new legislations, system transparency, et al. Then it dawns on me: Why exactly does this for profit corporation think that they have any right to 1) track my financial transactions*, 2) sell that information to anyone and everyone, 3) make no effort at accuracy and actively fight against the people they're tracking and 4) charge me to view the records they're keeping on me without my permission?

          *A few transactions are act
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by peterofoz (1038508)
          Just before we refinanced our home mortgage I had to pay of and cancel several credit cards and ask the remaining ones to lower our credit limit from $50,000 to about $5,000. The credit card companies were 'consuming' our ratings which reduced our ability to get a much lower cost mortgage. Now I just carry 2 cards: 1 for work and 1 for home.
        • by saikou (211301) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @01:52AM (#20677917) Homepage
          I'd say that's the right observation for completely wrong reasons. Your credit score depends on the amount of the credit line you use. So if you have a card that's being used up to 90% and then your creditor increases your credit line so you only use 60% of your card the score improves (that's also why it's recomended to have several cards and spread your charges around instead of using one to the max).
          You may have problem only if your total amount of credit starts to exceed your possible income. But in that case you don't really need another credit card anyways (though it may have implications for getting a different type of credit such as mortgage etc)
          But yes, credit companies love to extend the credit to "not credit worthy" because there is a better chance of getting fees/interest payments/etc.

          Of course it's more fun to think that all of the free credit increases you get are just companies trying to "get you". But it's sorta like believing that cities that provide water service do it so they can put "evil drugs" in the water. And electric companies transmit through the power lines hidden mind control signals.

          If credit card is really interested in screwing you, they wouldn't increase your credit line. Instead they'd report to credit agencies that you were late with your payment 3 times by more than 30 days, which'll put your rating in the toilet so much faster.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by pgrst (662201)

          It goes deeper than that. Companies you have credit with will extend you more credit than you think you have (often in the form of higher limits) not just because they like you, but because it can actually lower your credit score by making you more "at risk" for being in debt because you have access to credit.

          This is a common misconception regarding credit limits. larger credit lines do not decrease credit scores. An increased credit line decreases a) credit utilization for that specific credit line a

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:00PM (#20676083) Journal
    Is that it costs them less than $10 to freeze or unfreeze your credit.

    What I'm curious about is the certified mail [usps.com]
    It doesn't prove anything about the sender, merely that it got received.
    • Maybe they are looking to avoid people sending it regular postage and then constantly calling to ask if it arrived, or going nutto when it never does arrive. This way, they force people to do what they ought to anyway, and keep the process cleaner for everyone involved. I'd also think that they want to do all they can to keep it from being trivial, yet without making it too difficult.
    • by ucblockhead (63650) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:08PM (#20676141) Homepage Journal
      The amusing bit is that you need certified mail to place the freeze, but don't need certified mail to remove it. Interesting given that identity thieves would be interested in removing freezes, not adding them.
      • by Sancho (17056)
        Freezing someone else's credit as a prank or as harassment would definitely be something to try to prevent. But really, certified mail isn't that authoritative, anyway.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ucblockhead (63650)
          Very true. But I'd rather have my credit frozen as a prank than have someone get a credit card in my name after unfreezing my account.
    • Is that it costs them less than $10 to freeze or unfreeze your credit.
      I think $10 is quite reasonable. It would prevent ridiculously frequent freeze on and freeze offs.... like every other day, and it makes guessing your secret pin by submitting an unfreeze request every time very costly.

      Compared to other services, such as ATM fees, cash withdrawal fees, transfer fees, application fees, discontinuation fees, etc, it's affordable IMO.
      • by llamalad (12917) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:18PM (#20676229)
        I think that $10 is entirely unacceptable.

        They've been making money by keeping information about me, and now they want ME to pay them to STOP?

        Ridiculous.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lena_10326 (1100441)
          Well, I look at it this way. Credit bureaus do provide a desired service for lenders and borrowers. Without a credit history, you would get the same ho-hum homogenized rate everyone else gets. When you have good credit, the credit bureaus are a service to you so they deserve to be paid that. When you open an account, you're initiating that service via the lender.

          But, I completely agree with you with the passive credit pulls. We don't request those, but we do have regulation to block those with the 1-888-
          • Wouldn't an incorrect, bad credit report constitute libel? If it reduces your standing in the community and the information is not true, would one then have an opportunity to sue the credit reporting agency.

            In the event that they claim bad information, then you should be able to sue the party providing the bad information?

            Any lawyers, or lawyer-alikes care to comment?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Antony.Muss (1152597)
          You could steal your own identity and save the $10.
        • It gets better. Credit reporting agencies have been exempted from the laws against defamation.

          If I say, "You're going to lend money to llamalad? Hm, he's not a good risk. He's behind on his payments to a grass-laying company" and that's not true, you can sue me and collect damages.

          If Experian does that through a credit report, you can maybe get it corrected ... eventually ... but never hope to collect damages.
          • by epine (68316)
            Identity theft is a very small problem. Credential bungling is a huge problem, and it is caused by the institutional structure that this defamation-exemption created. How did that get passed into law?

            It strikes me as non-constitutional. How is anyone to succeed in the pursuit of happiness when major credit agencies are divulging damaging falsehoods about you in your significant financial relationships? Truly, in American society the pursuit of happiness must translate to litigating these credential-bung
        • by drawfour (791912)
          Oh no, you're not paying them to stop collecting data on you. You are paying them to prevent allowing a new credit line to be opened. Any current lenders you have will still be able to report on how you pay your loans to them. If you get assigned to a collection agency, that will still be reported.

          It's just to prevent identify thiefs from opening a new account in your name.

          I agree that a fee for this is absurd, but they will still collect all information on you that they are currently collecting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Copid (137416)

      What I'm curious about is the certified mail
      It doesn't prove anything about the sender, merely that it got received.

      One possible reason is to prevent people from claiming that they froze their records after something goes wrong and then trying to blame TransUnion. TransUnion can simply say, "If you sent it, you must have done it via certified mail, so you have the records to prove that it was our mistake, right? No? Then go away." Of course, one would think that a canceled check or record of a credit

  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:09PM (#20676159) Homepage Journal
    In the past, prior to applying for a home loan, I had subscribed to credit reporting services at each of the 3 credit reporting agencies. I have had my user accounts set up for over 5 years with each of them. I quit paying for the services once the free AnnualCreditReport.com went up. Now I have been checking my credit annually. Apparently I wasn't the only one who quit paying for services they should be getting for free because they started scamming the consumers.

    This year, I went to go pull my report from all 3 bureaus and none of them will let me see it - apparently because they "cannot adequately verify my identity", even though I've logged in with my same account information I've had with them for years. I enter my info; they'll ask me 3 questions about my credit past, which I correctly answer... then tell me I need to send my request via snail-mail.

    HOWEVER

    If I login and agree to pay $10, then they'll grant me access to the information, no questions asked.

    This is a scam!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lena_10326 (1100441)

      If I login and agree to pay $10, then they'll grant me access to the information, no questions asked.
      I have to presume they would check the name and account number on your credit card and see if it matches any accounts in your report, which would offer 1 more hurdle of security by requiring you to have physical possession of the card (they always ask for CVV2 code).

      • They already have my CC information on file... I just click SUBMIT and it charges the card.
        They can SEE the money they're turning away, and they block the transaction.
        • They have it on file, but they don't know that you have the physical card in your hand. Did they ask for a CVV code? If not, then you're right. It was pointless. If yes, then it's 1 extra level of security.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by JRHelgeson (576325)
            Okay, I just spent $10 to answer this question, so this post had better get modded UP! :)

            I went to TransUnion, logged in, provided my buddy's credit card number (with his consent, I gave him $10 cash) and bought my credit report that they previously would not give me for free!

            Any questions?
      • by langelgjm (860756)
        There's no reason they couldn't do that for free. Plenty of places will run temp authorization of about $1 on your card, just to make sure that it's valid.
    • by sconeu (64226)
      Same thing happened to me (with Experian only -- the others worked) -- and this was when I was getting my free one for a case of identity theft!!!!
  • All three credit agencies allow consumers to request that no new credit be granted. This includes both "instant credit" and new credit card offers. It's a really good idea unless you enjoy kiting your debt between different credit cards.

    If you want to change banks, you can always shop for a better rate on-line and then request an account application from the bank you decide best fits your needs. This will probably be a better rate than the unsolicted card offers you get in the mail.

    Cheers,
    Dave
  • by arbitraryaardvark (845916) <gtbear@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:29PM (#20676309) Homepage Journal
    In theory you can get a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, as required by federal law. Not to be confused with freecreditreport.com, which is free for $12.95 a month forever, a scam run by experian. My credit had been hit by an identify thief,and I've been trying to get some false info taken off my experian report. The online site didn't work. Calling the toll free number got me an automated thingy and no way to reach a live operator to explain what I actually needed, so today after a couple of weeks I got the form letter refusing to give me the report I'm entitled to under federal law, so I started calling, to try to reach a live human being.
    No live response at the 1-877 number, just loops of answering machines that hung up after awhile.
    So I called corporate at 714.830.7000, at 5:29 pm eastern. Operator hung up on me. Called back, same operator, wouldn't tell me her name, wouldn't put me through to a supervisor, kept sending me to an answering machine that after awhile of canned ads hung up on me. Went through this 4 times.

    I've been meaning to email tony.hadley@experian.com> vp govt relations
    Matthew Besler Public Relations Manager ("flack", not a real manager) Tel: +1 224 698 4415 Email: matthew.besler@experian.com, about this, to ask them why they don't answer their phones,
    but I'm lazy and didn't get around to it.
    So, experian, are you going to answer your phone next time I call?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sconeu (64226)
      [AOL] Me Too [/AOL]

      I had a case of ID theft, filed a police report and everything. Experian kept telling me I wasn't me.
      Equifax and TransUnion had no problems.

      Experian are a bunch of asshats.
    • by ageoffri (723674) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @11:18PM (#20677101)
      DO NOT USE THE PHONE OR EMAIL This can't be stated enough. Check out http://www.creditboards.com/ [creditboards.com] for more then enough information to successfully fight the 3 major Credit Reporting Agencies. About 2.5 years ago I had one stupid credit card company decide that since my sister and I have the same first letter in our first names that we were the same person and they closed my account also and listed it as a charge off due to bankruptcy which my sister did file. After I figured out what they did the company was very quick to correct the mistake. I then sent letters to the 3 CRA's and two of them followed the law and removed the bankruptcy and updated my account. After repeated attempts with the third I sent a letter labeled Intent to Sue and listed the legal statues that I was prepared to sue under. Almost immediately they corrected the information.

      Send everything in writing and send it certified mail return receipt, yes it is a pain but when the time comes to the the CRA to small claims court you have everything you need.

      • Additionally if you don't get a response there... contact your State Attorney General. Mail a physical letter to him/her stating your problem. You'll get some quick results. If you work at a prominent company in your state or belong to any other organization that would push you to the top of the pile, get some letterhead to put it on. If you don't work somewhere, go 'borrow' some letterhead from a bank or law firm. If you have an attorney already for any reason.. have them write the letter on your behalf...
  • new income stream (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mmeister (862972) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:35PM (#20676359)
    these guys are just looking for a new income stream.

    Are they taking responsibility for the fact they give you sensitive information which might compromise your identity? No. Instead, they say for $10 per transaction (freeze/unfreeze), you can do it.

    Welcome to the new corrupt America where we are all treated like some kind of cash machine, be it from corporations or gov't agencies.
  • by creimer (824291) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:35PM (#20676369) Homepage
    How about giving back my identity and life, and maybe throwing in a free iPhone for kicks? Signed, Joe Blow Consumer
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      How about giving back my identity and life, and maybe throwing in a free iPhone for kicks? Signed, Joe Blow Consumer
      Dear Joe,
      After checking your credit score, we talked with the credit bureaus & discovered you won't be able to afford >$1,000 a year in cellular service anyways.

      Sorry, no iPhone for you.
      Signed,
      AT&T
  • Be sure to tell Mr. Katz how much you enjoy getting bent over by TransUnion.

    CONTACT: Steve Katz of TransUnion, +1-312-985-2373,
    skatz@transunion.com

  • by zymurgy_cat (627260) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:44PM (#20676427) Homepage
    From the article:

    To place a freeze with TransUnion, consumers will need to submit a request via certified mail, but they will be able to lift it via regular mail or by telephone.

    Uh, isn't this backwards? It takes certified mail to issue the stop, but only a phone call to lift it? That's like saying it takes a key, password, and retina scan to shut down your computer but nothing else to turn it on. What's to stop a determined identity thief from lifting the freeze with a phone call?
    • by FLEB (312391)
      Here's what I'm assuming--

      Since you're initiating the process from scratch, the reason they need a mailing to initiate the freeze is firstly: the cover-your-ass surety of certified mail, and secondly: you're doing all the "initiation" bits there-- passing them the initial "key" information you'll use to unlock your account later, and giving them the information you need to associate your request with your account. When you're unlocking, however, all you're doing is reciting the "key"-- they have all the oth
  • by Chris Snook (872473) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:49PM (#20676469)
    "Acceptable forms of payment are American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa."
  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:54PM (#20676525) Homepage
    The whole problem with identity theft and abuse would be so very easy to fix.

    1. By law, make it the creditor's problem to prove that charges or credit requests were legitimate.
    2. Preemptively invalidate absolutely ALL contract terms, agreements, or otherwise, which shift this burden. Period.

    If there were an economic incentive for security, banks would be secure.

    Right now, citibank employees will tell you to enter information about your accounts on the web site in "that email" if it has their logo. They don't know what sites are theirs or not. Paypal sends stuff out that comes from "x.com" -- try explaining THAT one to someone who's not aware of their history. Why? Because it's mostly not their problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Duncan3 (10537)
      1. By law, make it the creditor's problem to prove that charges or credit requests were legitimate.

      Funny thing that. It is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by seebs (15766)
        Right now, there's some ambiguity, and some grey areas, and I believe they are allowed to get away with demonstrating only that they had a good-faith belief. I want them to have to prove that the belief was correct. Right now, it's up to the victim to establish that there was identity theft or whatever.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @11:46PM (#20677273)
    I've been a proponent for quite some time of an "identity clearinghouse" - an independent government-funded organization to which you could optionally submit your current contact information for the purposes of verifying your identity. Credit offerors (banks, CC companies, etc.) would be required by law to check with the clearinghouse before they could open a line of credit for anybody. The process of signing up for the clearinghouse or of changing one's information would have to be done in person at one's local DMV, where in nearly every state they already have computer photo records of everyone who has a license or ID card.

    The clearinghouse would take the lender's verification request, determine whether the purported credit applicant was listed in the database, and if not, they would respond that the person isn't listed. The lender could then open the line of credit. If the applicant is listed, then the clearinghouse attempts to contact the applicant using the contact information on record to verify the request, first by phone, then by mail (the applicant could also request only to be contacted by mail, or could request that all verifications be denied until further notice). If the applicant verifies the credit request, then the lender is notified with a simple "yes" and can then open the line of credit. Otherwise, the lender is notified with "no" and is forbidden from offering credit under that application.

    Any lender found to have opened a line of credit for a person who refused to verify a credit request would become fully liable for that line of credit. The reporting agencies would be required to remove the credit line from the person's records. Any legal costs incurred would also become the lender's responsibility.

    The system would be funded via a fee charged for every verification request.

    This wouldn't solve all identity theft problems. For example, if someone steals your credit card, you're still on the hook (at least as much as your credit card issuer doesn't cover). It wouldn't necessarily cover interception of one's mail. But it would make mass ripoffs of PII useless.

  • by iangoldby (552781) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:02AM (#20679067) Homepage
    It seems to me that a credit freeze is similar to the system administrators' principle that you don't leave running services that you don't need. If you get no benefit from a service, why accept the risk that it poses, even if that risk is very small? Similarly, if you don't need credit, why make it even possible for someone else to get credit in your name?

    Here in the UK, someone by the name of Jamie Jamieson came up with a way to exploit a UK law that says that everyone has a right to place a "Notice of Correction" in their credit report, which lenders must take into account when they assess your credit. Full details are given at http://www.freeidprotection.co.uk/ [freeidprotection.co.uk] but in short, you send the three UK credit agencies a notice of correction stating that any application for credit by you will be accompanied by your thumbprint, and that any application not accompanied by your thumbprint should be considered fraudulent.

    It's important to note that the credit agency is not expected to verify that the thumbprint is yours. But most fraudsters would not know in advance that a thumbprint would be necessary, and certainly would not want to supply their own...

    I have no idea whether this would work in the USA.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:28AM (#20679207)
    This is just a ploy to stop more states from passing freeze laws. In Ohio, they wanted $10 with the proposed freeze law. Everyone is screaming that's too much and to make it $2 or free.

    They really need sued.
  • So now Americans have to PAY in order to NOT receive an UNWANTED service.

    If ever there ever was a business model that is sure to be profitable, this one is a winner.
    • So now Americans have to PAY in order to NOT receive an UNWANTED service.

      Before the cell phone boom, the bell companies made $$$ selling their phone lists to telemarketers.

      Then they tried to extort more $$$ from the customer by selling options that would combat telemarketing - caller ID, call blocking, etc.

      It was a great double-dipping $$$ scam until the phone customers got wind of it. Small wonder many of them abandoned land lines for cell phones.

  • I'm in a state where many insurance companies used creidt scores to adjust rates. (This is banned in some states.) What if the insurance company cannot longer read these? set to the highest rate then?
  • The biggest piece of Crap information supplied by the credit reporting bureaus is when they tell (sell, actually) as part of your credit record, everyone else who has accessed your credit record to date.

    I personally know of banks that have refused to extend credit, or even consider applications, when they see a flurry of recent inquiry activity. They'll look for every loophole to deny credit to anyone they feel "is shopping around for credit."

    This inquiry history has no bearing on your true credit hist

All great ideas are controversial, or have been at one time.

Working...