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Md. lawmakers consider consumer credit freeze bill to lock out ID thieves

WASHINGTON — Maryland lawmakers will consider legislation to help you lock identity thieves out of your credit.

Identity thieves who get your name and Social Security number may open lines of credit you don’t even know exist, until you find them months or years later on your credit report. Unfortunately your information is probably out there for them to use.

“We just had a huge data breach in Equifax, the credit reporting agency — 147 million accounts were broken into,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

His recommendation: “If you don’t need credit, freeze your credit so nobody can open a credit card in your name, borrow money in your name and build debt in your name.”

As of Oct. 1, a new Maryland law allows consumers to freeze their credit once for free. But it costs $5 to unfreeze it. However, Frosh said he expects a new bill this session to make things better.

“In three months, I predict all freezes and unfreezes will be free,” he said. “The legislature is going into session. I know that’s very high on their list. By April or June, you will be able to unfreeze it anytime you want and it won’t cost you anything.”

Most businesses check credit histories before opening a new account. So even if an identity thief has your name and Social Security number, being able to freeze your credit means they will have a tougher time opening a credit line in your name.

Frosh said you should consider freezing your kids’ accounts, too.

Identity thieves love to use children’s information to secure lines of credit that can go unnoticed for years.

“If one of these thieves has a choice in stealing the identity of a five-year-old child or 40-year-old millionaire, they’ll go for the child,” he said. “That seems counterintuitive. But the reason is this: They can take the identity of a 5-year-old kid and open credit in that child’s name and, at least until age 18, they can exploit it. I don’t think there are too many five-year-olds who are applying for American Express cards. So they may never know about it until they reach the age of majority, apply for credit somewhere and find their credit has been completely wrecked.”

Frosh said freezing your credit is not a difficult process

“It took me 10 minutes,” Frosh said. “I dialed the phone numbers. There are menus you have to go. But for all three, it took about 10 minutes.”

Then you can unfreeze your credit anytime you need to use it and freeze it again when you’re done

To place a security freeze, send a request to each of the three credit reporting agencies. You will need to include your personal information. If you are a victim of identity theft, include a copy of your police report.

Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
1-866-447-7559

  • Full name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
  • A copy of your police report, or other investigative report filed with law enforcement, if you are an ID theft victim to be eligible for a free freeze.
  • If you have moved in the past two years or had a name change, you should provide that prior address or name so you can be properly identified.

Experian Security Freeze
P. O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
1-888-397-3742

  • Full name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
  • A copy of your police report, or other investigative report filed with law enforcement, if you are an ID theft victim to be eligible for a free freeze.
  • If you have moved or had a name change in the past five years, prior addresses and proof of prior names are also required.
  • A copy of a government issued ID card.
  • A copy of a bank statement or utility bill containing your current address.

Trans Union Security Freeze
P. O. Box 2000,
Chester, PA 19016
1-888-909-8872

  • Full name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
  • A copy of your police report, or other investigative report filed with law enforcement, if you are an ID theft victim to be eligible for a free freeze.
  • If you have moved in the past five years, supply addresses for past five years.
  • A copy of a government issued ID card.

You can also find more information about each credit reporting agency’s freeze program at the websites for Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.


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