Tuesday, January 02, 2007

More on credit freezes and Pennsylvania's new law

My article in Monday's Inquirer on Pennsylvania's new credit-freeze law (click here to read it) was supposed to include a box with some basic questions and answers, and links to further information. It was inadvertently left out of the paper, and will appear in Wednesday's Business section. Meanwhile, here's what the missing box said:

If you want to freeze your credit file immediately or are just curious about the law, here are answers to a few basic questions:

How does Pennsylvania’s law compare to those in other states? It’s stronger than some in one crucial way, according to Consumers Union, which supports and tracks the proposals: It allows anybody, not just identity-theft victims, to freeze his or her credit file. Five other states’ laws, including two that go into effect Jan. 1 in Kansas and Hawaii, only apply to victims.

How much does a security freeze cost? Each of the three national credit bureaus can charge you up to $10, unless you’re 65 or older, or are a victim of identity theft and can submit a police report to prove it. In those situations, a freeze is free. (New Jersey’s law, which went into effect a year ago, makes a freeze free for all consumers.)

What about a temporary thaw? That also costs $10 per credit bureau, except for identity-theft victims, although any consumer can permanently lift a freeze for free.

Is there any way to save? There may be. If you’re car shopping or doing something else that may necessitate a credit check, ask whether the business needs all three reports. In some cases, you may satisfy its needs by thawing just one of your credit files.

How do I proceed? Although the credit bureaus are allowed to accept freeze requests via secure Internet connections, the law only requires them to accept requests via certified mail. For instructions, contact TransUnion at 1-888-909-8872; Equifax, 1-800-685-1111; Experian, 1-888-397-3742 [Note: Experian's general number does not provide information for Pennsylvanians on how to initiate a credit freeze. For instructions in Pennsylvania, call 1-800-290-5195 - or see my earlier blog entry here.]

For detailed instructions from the credit bureaus, see my earlier blog entry here.

For sample letters you can modify to request a freeze from each of the three main credit bureaus, and an excellent how-to guide prepared by Consumers Union, click here.

For New Jersey security-freeze instructions from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, click here. For information from NJPIRG, click here.


Post a Comment

<< Home