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Before the new policy took effect as of Nov. 1, 2007 the only consumers that were allowed to place a credit freeze on their credit report were victims of identity theft. Now, Trans Union has led the pack in allowing any consumer to place a credit freeze on their own report, regardless of any state laws or being a victim or not.
Experian and Equifax followed along a few weeks later announcing that they would also introduce such a universal credit freeze plan. There will be a $10 fee associated with placing a credit freeze for non victims of identity theft, while it has been the policy that a victim could place, lift and remove their freeze for no cost.
There are some states where credit freeze laws have not been created or put into place to allow anyone other than victims of identity theft to place a freeze on their own credit file. Regardless of state laws, any consumer that wishes to place a freeze can now do so. These new plans will not override any price that has been set by the state, nor will it pre-empt any of the state laws that are set. This is all about consumers having the freedom to choose the correct path of theft protection for them. While the right for placing a fraud alert has been in tact for any of the consumers in all of the 50 states, it is not exactly the same things as a credit freeze.
Fraud alerts have been available to consumers in every state in an effort to protect them from identity theft. Placing a fraud alert on the credit report is simply asking the lender to watch for fraud by taking additional security precautions. The fraud alert will last for 90 days after being placed on a credit report and will caution any creditor or business that may check the report that the consumer may possibly be a fraud victim.
However, consumer advocates believe that the lenders and credit grantors may not be paying quite close enough attention to the report for fraud or screening the applications well enough to ultimately stop identity theft. This is where the credit freeze could work sufficiently for controlling identity theft.
Unlike the fraud alert, a credit freeze will prevent any third parties from even receiving a copy of the credit report, unless they are specifically allowed by the consumer. Only businesses for which the credit freeze has been lifted by the consumer or ones with permissible purposes will be able to obtain the credit information.
Another big difference and what some advocates say is a downfall is the amount of time that it will take to place and remove a credit freeze. All of the credit bureaus accept a request for placing credit freezes via postal mail and the process for placing and removing the freeze could take time and is not instantaneous.
Placing a credit freeze on your credit report is a personal choice that each consumer will need to evaluate within their own circumstances. For some individuals it may be found to be too much of a burden for their benefit. The fact that once the credit freeze is placed it cannot be instantaneously removed will make it troublesome for a lot of consumers. If there would be foreseen prospects that would necessitate obtaining credit decisions or a potential employer having to check the credit file, a consumer could remove the freeze ahead of time.
Unfortunately, not all consumers will have that knowledge prior to the need for the report being pulled, therefore possibly losing job opportunities and obtaining instant credit for purchases. It may prove to be more of a hindrance to some consumers than they may feel is necessary. The bottom line is that a choice is available to them, whether or not they take the option to place a credit freeze on their credit report. Each and every consumer can now make the decision according to their personal preference.