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Credit Report Freeze a Recommended Protection

By Faye Mergel
Published: Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Identity theft investigators say that freezing one’s credit report is an excellent way in protecting identity from scammers. Experts note that cases of identity theft are rising on double digit percentage each year, making it America’s fastest growing crime. They advise consumers to freeze their accounts right away after noticing fraudulent items in their credit reports.

Credit Report Freeze a Recommended ProtectionAn independent research firm’s study reveals that cases of identity theft in the United States have rise by 22 percent from 2007 to 2008. As revealed by statistics, 10 million Americans were victimized last year alone. The study further reveals that 71 percent of frauds happen within a week after a victim’s personal data. What is more alarming, experts say, is that low tech methods are the most common ways employed in stealing from victims. Hence, consumers who mostly think that their identity could only be stolen through the Internet or computer networks neglect the fact that they could be victimized when someone steals a physical document from them or when someone steals their wallet and obtains their Social Security number.

Rising number of identity frauds prompted experts to call out to consumers about freezing their credit reports once they detect strange activities in their accounts. Once a person decides to freeze his accounts with the credit bureaus, it will be marked “no access.” This means that no new accounts or loan applications can be made under his name until he unfreezes it. A locked up credit report also prevents new creditors from pulling it out from the bureaus. However, freezing an account has its benefits as well as consequences.

Experts point out that a frozen credit report places consumers in full control of their accounts which means, no other people can access or use it but them. It also provides sense of comfort for people whose identities have recently been stolen, specialists say. They add that it guarantees the highest level of protection while a person clears up fraudulent items across his name.

However, specialists say that freezing a credit report is not takes some efforts. It requires consumers to send certified mail to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Consumers must also prepare documents that can prove their identity before their request can be granted. Locking an account comes with a cost as well. The fees normally range from $10 to $12 which a person must pay every time he freezes or unfreezes his credit report. But there are states which waive fees for victims and senior citizens.

Experts advise to check their credit reports once a year to know whether there is a need to freeze it or not.

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