Consumer Payment Card News

Frigid Credit

Thirty seven states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws in recent years giving consumers the right to put a security freeze on their credit files so crooks can’t use stolen information to open fraudulent accounts. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, has created an online guide for consumers interested in learning how to take advantage of these new security freeze laws. A security freeze gives consumers the choice to “freeze” or lock access to their credit file against anyone trying to open up a new account or to get new credit in their name. When a security freeze is in place, an identity thief cannot open a new account in your name because the potential creditor or seller of services will not be able to check your credit. Most state security freeze laws allow each of the three major credit bureaus to charge $5 to $10 to initiate the protection or to lift the freeze. The best state laws keep all fees at $5 or less and allow consumers to temporarily lift or remove the freeze without charge. The guide is available at and offers detailed, step-by- step instructions for each state explaining how consumers can exercise this right. Additional information about security freeze laws, can be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s web site at:

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