Beginning on November 1st, a new law sponsored by Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) will enable New York State consumers to block access to their credit report. The new law, which was signed into law in June, will strengthen the available identity theft protections enjoyed by New Yorkers and severely limit the ability of identity thieves to open fraudulent accounts in the name of innocent consumers.
If a credit card company or bank cannot view an applicant’s credit history, they are unlikely to issue that person any new credit cards, loans, etc. This effectively cuts off a thief's ability to use someone’s private information to get credit, loans and leases in their name.
"By blocking access to credit information, New York State consumers will be better protected from unauthorized and illegal use of their identity. This will limit the ability of identity thieves to commit their crimes on innocent residents and further the protective efforts of law enforcement," stated Senator Flanagan. "Identity thieves are getting more sophisticated and the laws must be continually strengthened to fight this growing threat to our residents. This law will further the state's efforts continue that fight."
The new law will allow consumers to place a security freeze on their credit through one of three main consumer reporting agencies to block access to an account. The security freeze blocks all access to a consumer’s credit reports.
The freeze request must be made to one of the consumer reporting agencies by sending a written request by certified or overnight mail. Consumers who wish to place a credit freeze on their account should contact one of the three main consumer credit reporting agencies and supply the following information: Name, Address, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, and Proof of current address - such as a current utility bill.
The credit freeze must be initiated within five days of receipt of the request. Requests should be sent to the following credit reporting agencies:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, Georgia 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
Specific exemptions to security freeze restrictions are allowed for existing creditors, persons to whom a financial obligation is owed, government entities, prescreening conducted in accordance with federal law, child support agencies, law enforcement, persons, businesses or agencies with court orders or subpoenas, check service or fraud prevention companies processing checks or other financial transactions, credit monitoring services and individuals accessing their own credit.
The agencies issuing a credit freeze may charge a fee of less than five dollars for the activation of the credit freeze. Consumers who are requesting their first credit freeze under this new law will be exempt from this fee as will victims of identity theft who present documentation of any crime.
This freeze could only be lifted if the consumer who placed the security freeze utilized their unique PIN or password which is provided by the credit reporting agency when a freeze is initiated. This identifier must be supplied to a credit reporting agency each time the consumer wants to permit access to credit information to allow for continued credit application without fear of identity theft. There may be a fee of less than five dollars to remove a credit freeze or for a replacement PIN or password.
For additional protection from identity thieves, consumers are now able to get a free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies every twelve months. To take advantage of this free credit protection, please CLICK HERE.
"New York State has been continually working to provide protection from identity thieves and this is a great step in that fight. But the fight is continuous and consumers must always be vigilant in their efforts to protect their credit and stop identity thieves," concluded Senator Flanagan.
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