Friday, May 13, 2005

Washington Enacts Security Freeze Law

The State of Washington has become the latest state to enact a "security freeze" law, a useful option for victims of identity theft.

A "security freeze" allows individuals to "freeze," or prevent, anyone from accessing their credit reports created by one of the big three credit reporting agencies.

California was the first state to enact a "security freeze" option.

By mid-2005, California, Texas, Louisiana and Vermont (and now Washington) will all have laws in force allowing consumers to restrict access to their credit reports.

Federal law provides for fraud alerts, but not a right to apply a “security freeze,” so state laws like Washington's, allowing for a security freeze, will not be preempted.

Governor Gregoire of Washington signed Senate Bill 5418 on May 9, 2005.

The bill allows vicitims of identity theft who have filed a police report, and made a request in writing to the credit reporting agency, to freeze accesss to their report.

Agencies must comply within 3 days.

The freeze must remain in place until the consumer requests that it be removed.

The law also provides that if a security freeze is in place, a consumer reporting agency may not change any of the following official information in a consumer credit report without sending a WRITTEN confirmation of the change to the consumer within thirty days of the change being posted to the consumer's file:

* Name
* Date of birth
* Social security number
* Address

* In the case of an address change, the written confirmation must be sent to BOTH the new address and to the former address.

* A consumer reporting agency is not required to place a security freeze in a consumer credit report if it acts only as a reseller of credit information by assembling and merging information contained in the data base of another consumer reporting agency and does not maintain a permanent data base of credit information.

* A consumer reporting agency MUST honor any security freeze placed on a consumer credit report by another consumer reporting agency.

The following entities are not required to place a security freeze in a credit report:

* Check services or fraud prevention services companies
* Deposit account information service companies


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