by Laura Spadanuta, Assistant Editor
A major credit bureau offers credit freezes to consumers as a way to prevent identity theft.
Proponents of credit freezes as a tool to combat identity theft got another victory today when Experian, one of the nation's top three credit bureaus, offered credit freezes to consumers in all 50 states and Washington D.C., as reported by The Washington Post.
A credit freeze allows individuals to freeze their credit, blocking attempts by potential identity thefts to open new credit lines in their name. Critics of freezes cite potential difficulty in getting instant credit and removing the freeze. And The Post points out that the major credit bureaus have resisted offering freezes and its industry lobbyists have fought state freezes in the past. The Post reports that bureaus resisted freezes because they make money selling credit information to potential creditors.
As reported in August's issue of Security Management, California was the first state to pass a credit freeze law and now about 39 states and D.C. have such laws on file that will kick in by 2008 or 2009. Now residents of the remaining states (or states with laws that just allow freezes for identity theft victims) will have access to the tool in November.
The Post reports that another of the big three credit bureaus, TransUnion, broke ranks with the industry two weeks ago when it became the first bureau to offer the freeze. Equifax is the final major credit bureau; it has not yet offered the credit freeze.