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New Credit Report Privilege for North Carolinians

By Sally Maison
Published: Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

Consumers from North Carolina can now freeze their credit report through the Internet. A new state law aims to protect North Carolinians from identity theft, which is now America’s fastest growing crime.

New Credit Report Privilege for North CaroliniansNC Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that state consumers can already freeze their reports from credit reporting agencies through online for free. The new law also requires commercial monitoring firms to inform consumers how they can access their own credit reports for free before convincing them to avail paid services. Moreover, the state legislation will require creditors to have stricter requirements in verifying identity. North Carolina residents may now also remove personal information from local government websites.

Previously, consumers were required to send a certified letter and pay 10 dollars to each of the credit bureaus before their reports can be blocked.  Now, only 3 dollars will be required from them if they choose to freeze their accounts via mail or phone. However, the service is free for consumers who have become victims of identity theft and for those who are aged 62 and above.

Online request for credit report freeze requires consumers to visit the website of each of the bureau and provide identifying information such as Social Security number, date of birth, and address. When a credit report is already frozen, identity thieves can no longer make loans or open new accounts under another person’s name.

Once consumers have cleared fraudulent items from their name, they can already unfreeze their credit report online and for free as well. Same procedures should be done with telephone and mail communications, state legislators advise.

Critics applauded the state’s decision since it will allow residents to respond to frauds faster. Critics say that the new law assures North Carolinians that crooks cannot take advantage of the good name they have worked so hard to maintain.

Meanwhile, finance specialists tell consumers that regular credit check is still the best way to fight the crime which victimized 10 million Americans last year alone. Last year’s figure is a 22 percent increase from 2007’s, which makes the fastest growing crime in the country. Worldwide, stolen identity costs companies a total of 221 billion dollars.

Finance experts advise consumers that they should report fraudulent items to credit bureaus immediately. They should file a dispute right away to contest debts which they do not really owe, specialists say. Advocates remind consumers that they should take a joint effort in deterring the crime to keep the statistics from rising each year.

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