I found this information on the World Privacy Forum and thought it was worth posting. I have had more than one client confide in me that their credit was less than stellar and they were afraid they were getting passed over for interviews/offers because potential employers were checking their credit.
If you suspect the same, you may opt to “freeze” your credit.
What Is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze (sometimes called a security freeze) lets you stop the disclosure of your credit report by a credit bureau.
The intended result of a credit freeze is that no one – not even you – can open a new credit account in your name. The beauty of a freeze is that it will not stop your existing credit cards from working, but it will prevent insurance companies and employers from obtaining your credit data.
If you are actively seeking new employment or insurance, you should think carefully about enacting a credit freeze unless you are currently a victim of identity theft. Credit freezing is widely considered by consumer and privacy advocates as a potent measure to prevent some forms of identity theft, and can be especially helpful to individuals who are having persistent problems, but it is not for everyone, and not everyone has the right to enable a freeze either.
How it Works
A credit freeze locks access to your consumer credit report and credit score files. A lender or merchant will normally not issue new credit if it cannot access these items. One benefit of a freeze is that you can stop thieves from getting credit in your name. The downside is that you are also blocked from obtaining credit unless you “thaw” the freeze. You can halt your security freeze by using a PIN to unlock access to the credit file. Some states require the “thaw” to take no longer than 15 minutes. Some allow longer times.
The ability to freeze your credit is available nationwide through credit reporting bureaus. There is some variability in cost and details due to variance in state law. (For information about which states have a freeze law, see “More About Credit Freeze” below.)
Implementing a Credit Freeze
Here are two sources of information for how to initiate a credit freeze in your particular state:
- The World Privacy Forum’s Credit Freeze has a list of states and their current law on credit freezes. Each links to the official state information page about how to place a freeze, or to another information source for that state. Many of the official state information pages are excellent and provide tips and sample letters.
- Consumer’s Union has an excellent and frequently updated page on all current state freeze laws and requirements, with a link on how to opt out for each state and sample letters.
More About Credit Freeze
- See the Federal Trade Commission’s Credit Freeze FAQ.
- See the PIRG State Security Freeze Laws.
- See the California Office of Privacy Protection. Even if you don’t live in California, this is an excellent page to learn more about how credit freeze works. If you are a California resident, you will find sample letters ready for you to print out.
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Extremely educational post