Wiki article - Credit freeze

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LadyGeek
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Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:36 pm

As suggested by mrc in Subject: Suggestions for the Wiki:
mrc wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:13 am
I checked the wiki and found a short explanation of credit reports and a page for credit scores. Would a section/page on freezing credit (with an enumeration of all the reporting agencies) be helpful? I just found out about SageStream from another post.
We now have a draft wiki article: Credit freeze (link updated, see below)

So far, only the "basic" info has been listed.*

Can those who've gone through the credit freeze process please review and provide comments?

Once we have a consensus, we can "go live" and make the article more accessible to our readers.

*Info is from the Federal Trade Commission. Many US government sites have no copyright notice - your taxpayer dollars at work.

Update: The article is now "live", see below.
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by ThereAreNoGurus » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:54 pm

I think a credit freeze should also be placed with this agency, as well, to help prevent loans or bank accounts being opened with fake creds: https://www.chexsystems.com/web/chexsys ... /!ut/p/z1/

From that page:
You have a right to place a security freeze on your consumer report, which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing any information in your consumer file without your expressed authorization.

The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans and services from being approved in your name without your consent. You should be aware that taking advantage of this right may delay or prevent timely approval from any user of your consumer report that you wish to do business with. The third party will receive a message indicating that you have blocked your information.
I placed a freeze on line with ChexSystems and am waiting for a PIN via mail.

I tried SageStream earlier today via phone (no online option). I was asked to leave a message and someone would get back to me. I didn't leave a message. The other freeze option is via mail.

Another secondary agency is ARS (I've taken no action with them, yet): https://www.doctorofcredit.com/two-cred ... n_Services

ETA: I think a wiki on this is a great idea.

As one poster suggested, before freezing one's credit, one should create online account(s) with SS. Also, registering with CreditKarma.com, before freezing allows one to continue monitoring their credit and receive alerts.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by siamond » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:22 pm

Great initiative, Ladygeek. I didn't complete the process yet (catching up!), so I don't have much to contribute. Let me just share a few links from my recent reading, and ideas for sections in an expanded page.

Links to activate credit freeze (5 major bureaus):
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=227226&start=450#p3530020

Credit freeze for dependents:
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/01/the ... ds-credit/

Credit Freeze Protection - fees considerations per state:
http://consumersunion.org/research/cons ... tection-2/

And of course, we need to have a discussion of credit monitoring vs. credit freeze.

(side note: multiple credit cards now come with a free basic credit monitoring service; AAA membership does too; Personal Finance tools like Mint do too)

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:48 pm

ThereAreNoGurus - Thanks! I have incorporated all of your suggestions. I found the "official" sources of information for Social Security and Credit Karma.

The wiki has been revised: User:LadyGeek/Credit freeze

siamond - I'm also getting organized (collecting information...), e.g. the list of online resources should be reformatted as a wiki table.

Comments / questions / suggestions are welcome. All wiki editors are welcome to edit the page directly.
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by TimeRunner » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:08 pm

I thought the Wiki article was well written. Keeping it as simple as needed, which seems to have been done here, is a worthy goal. :beer
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by Nutmeg » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:29 pm

I am very glad to see that you are doing this!

It might be a good idea to include Equifax under "Other Resources." The link to the Equifax help page on credit freezes is here: https://help.equifax.com/s/article/ka13 ... redit-file

It might also be helpful to note that freezing with Equifax is free until November 21, 2017. This was reported here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/12/your ... aiver.html

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by khh » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:25 am

ThereAreNoGurus wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:54 pm
As one poster suggested, before freezing one's credit, one should create online account(s) with SS. .
Since Social Security runs a credit check before allowing you to open an online account, doesn't having a credit freeze in place prevent an ID thief from signing up? Would I gain any security by unfreezing my Equifax report and signing up for an online Social Security account ?

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by mrc » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:34 am

Thanks LadyGeek. The draft page is great.

Could we add info on freezing [ur=https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreezel]Innovis[/url] as well?

Code: Select all

https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze
The page lists available methods (phone, mail, online form, and walk in address :shock:)
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by objectivefunction » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:51 am

Not sure if it is worth noting that in some states placing a credit freeze is free. Also, if you are a victim of identity theft placing a freeze should be free.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by Rainmaker41 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:19 am

I concur with adding basic info on ChexSystems and Innovis. More importantly, great job LadyGeek!
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by JohnDoh » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:56 am

A useful link that I didn't see (sorry if I missed it):

FTC: Place a Fraud Alert
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0 ... raud-alert

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by Brewman » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:15 am

Lady Geek, Thank You for this! Excellent resource!

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by investor4life » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:29 am

Thank you, LadyGeek! The wiki is a great idea and is looking pretty good already.

It'd be helpful to include a section that lists the specific credit reporting agencies that are checked by different creditors, at least the major ones (e.g., Chase checks with X and Y, AMEX with X and Z, etc.), so that one can lift a freeze selectively. This section could be crowd-populated over time.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by investor4life » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:39 am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a list of ALL the credit reporting agencies out there. I found this on Krebs on Security.

http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/2016 ... panies.pdf

This is current as of January 2016.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by eucalyptus » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:57 pm

With which credit reporting agencies should one institute a freeze?

The three national agencies, of course.

Innovis? Chex Systems?

The many others listed in investor4life's helpful post?

I wish I could provide an answer ....

Also, I've read that both spouses must place a freeze - important to note if true IMO.

Excellent draft.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by siamond » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:56 pm

I added a little bit more material:
- per state fees + minor rewording (in the 'before you freeze your credit' section)
- credit freezes for minors (in the 'notes' section')

We definitely need to add a section about Credit Monitoring (after the fact) vs. Credit Freeze (preventive action).

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by Osp62 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:07 pm

ThereAreNoGurus wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:54 pm
I think a credit freeze should also be placed with this agency, as well, to help prevent loans or bank accounts being opened with fake creds: https://www.chexsystems.com/web/chexsys ... /!ut/p/z1/

From that page:
You have a right to place a security freeze on your consumer report, which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing any information in your consumer file without your expressed authorization.

The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans and services from being approved in your name without your consent. You should be aware that taking advantage of this right may delay or prevent timely approval from any user of your consumer report that you wish to do business with. The third party will receive a message indicating that you have blocked your information.
I placed a freeze on line with ChexSystems and am waiting for a PIN via mail.

I tried SageStream earlier today via phone (no online option). I was asked to leave a message and someone would get back to me. I didn't leave a message. The other freeze option is via mail.

Another secondary agency is ARS (I've taken no action with them, yet): https://www.doctorofcredit.com/two-cred ... n_Services

ETA: I think a wiki on this is a great idea.

As one poster suggested, before freezing one's credit, one should create online account(s) with SS. Also, registering with CreditKarma.com, before freezing allows one to continue monitoring their credit and receive alerts.
I have had my credit frozen since 2009 at the top 3 bureaus. Wondering if I will just be providing more info on myself to these other smaller companies if I apply with them for a credit freeze. Does anyone know if these smaller credit bureaus really have files on everyone and if any bank would really open an account without checking with the big three?

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by LadyGeek » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:54 pm

I have incorporated suggestions from mrc, JohnDoh, and investor4life. Thanks!

Additionally, Equifax provides a comprehensive list of fees by state. It's worth a read.
A comprehensive list of security freeze fees by state is provided by Equifax here (PDF).
We're now "live" in the wiki: Credit freeze

This does not mean we're done, only that it's "good enough" that readers can use the information. Please continue to provide comments, suggestions, corrections.

Administrative notes for the wiki editors:
- The list of credit reporting agencies has been reformatted into into a table, Equifax has been added.
- A new category "Consumer credit" has been created. Credit cards and Credit score now belong in this category.
- A navigation template has been added to the bottom of the page, modified for this new category.

Note: The wiki is a collaborative effort, I'm not the only one working on this article. Click on View history to see the wiki editor contributors. (So far: myself, siamond, and Peculiar_Investor.).

Update: Revised wording for Equifax fee list.
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by mrc » Sat Sep 16, 2017 4:39 am

I have a question about the external link in Note 1 in the "Credit Reporting Agencies" table. What happens if/when that doctorofcredit link goes dead? I understand respecting website copyright. Would it be prudent to stash a copy of the contact address (and perhaps template letter)?

Five minutes on Google (only AFTER knowing which terms to search), I found this saveourcity page which includes a link to google docs template letters for both IDA/Sagestream and ARS.
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by siamond » Sat Sep 16, 2017 2:13 pm

siamond wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:56 pm
We definitely need to add a section about Credit Monitoring (after the fact) vs. Credit Freeze (preventive action).
Done, just added it.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by BigJohn » Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:01 pm

Lady Geek, great initiative. I just completed this freeze on-line at Equifax, Experion, Transunion, Innovis and ChexSystem. Not sure how detailed you want to get nor how often these details might change but here is a summary of my on-line experience for you to use as you see fit.

Equifax - system generated PIN, need to print PDF for records, no email or US mail verification
Experion - same as Equifax
Transunion - you have to create a user account with a password first then initiate the freeze, self-select PIN, need to print webpage, no verification sent
Innovis - no on-line verification or PIN, they will send via US mail
ChexSystems - same as Innovis

One suggestion for clarity is in the section heading "Placing a freeze on your credit report". The words make it appear that doing the big three covers everything and I'd suggest wording more like "you have to freeze at each individual agency, see list of agencies below" so people know they have do do each one separately. Also, the freeze is by SSN so you do have to do a separate request for you and your spouse.

One question for anyone reading this. I've never heard of ARS or SageStream, interested in perspective on whether this DoctorofCredit website is known and reliable enough to trust?

Glad to answer questions if needed.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by need403bhelp » Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:08 pm

BigJohn wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:01 pm
Lady Geek, great initiative. I just completed this freeze on-line at Equifax, Experion, Transunion, Innovis and ChexSystem. Not sure how detailed you want to get nor how often these details might change but here is a summary of my on-line experience for you to use as you see fit.

Equifax - system generated PIN, need to print PDF for records, no email or US mail verification
Experion - same as Equifax
Transunion - you have to create a user account with a password first then initiate the freeze, self-select PIN, need to print webpage, no verification sent
Innovis - no on-line verification or PIN, they will send via US mail
ChexSystems - same as Innovis

One suggestion for clarity is in the section heading "Placing a freeze on your credit report". The words make it appear that doing the big three covers everything and I'd suggest wording more like "you have to freeze at each individual agency, see list of agencies below" so people know they have do do each one separately. Also, the freeze is by SSN so you do have to do a separate request for you and your spouse.

One question for anyone reading this. I've never heard of ARS or SageStream, interested in perspective on whether this DoctorofCredit website is known and reliable enough to trust?

Glad to answer questions if needed.
Re Doctor of Credit, it is a highly regarded site in the bank account and credit card (bonus) churning community. With that said, it is a blog with the goal to get information out quickly, so sometimes they do make mistakes. Those mistakes, though, are usually clarified within a matter of days, and the article cited on the Wiki is from years' ago (so not inaccurate, as DoC would have noted).

Full disclosure: I have corresponded with both Chuck and William Charles who run the blog, and contributed information that led to at least one blog post on the site.

The CFPB has a large list of >20 "consumer reporting" agencies that store your personal information:
http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/2016 ... panies.pdf

With that said, I think it would be largely impossible to to freeze your information at all of them, and the marginal benefit is likely fairly low.

EDIT: as an aside, sometime ago I requested my LexisNexis Accurint for Collections report to see what was on it (yet another agency - this report, I believe, is sold to debt collectors who are trying to find you).

Besides having my personal information and old addresses, which I expected, it listed most of my current neighbors' and former neighbors' names, years of birth, and almost their entire social security numbers with only the last 4 digits X'ed out. The point of the story is that there is a LOT of information about us out there, and some of it (almost your whole social except the last 4) is easily accessible to a neighbor who decides to ask LexisNexis for THEIR report.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:40 pm

^^^ It's the same list as suggested earlier by investor4life.
investor4life wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:39 am
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a list of ALL the credit reporting agencies out there. I found this on Krebs on Security.

http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/2016 ... panies.pdf

This is current as of January 2016.
Apologies, as I thought I had incorporated that report in the previous update. I missed it. After some searching, the 2016 report appears to the the latest available.

Upon reading this list in detail, it's a gold mine of information. The list is actually a very comprehensive resource. In addition to describing how your credit reports are used, it indicates which companies will supply free credit reports.

I have significantly revised the wiki to utilize this information. Also note the term is "credit reporting company", not "credit agency".

BigJohn - I have also incorporated your suggestion for the "Placing a freeze on your credit report" section.

See: Credit freeze
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by BigJohn » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:35 pm

need403bhelp, thanks for perspective on Doctor of Credit, sounds like a credible source.

The details in the CFPB link and your experience with LexisNexis report are a bit disturbing but I guess not too surprising. At least for right now, the point of diminishing returns for me seems to be to freeze at the big three, Innovis and ChexSytems. Thanks for your perspective on that as well.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by siamond » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:22 am

LadyGeek wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:40 pm
investor4life wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:39 am
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a list of ALL the credit reporting agencies out there. I found this on Krebs on Security.

http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/2016 ... panies.pdf

This is current as of January 2016.
Apologies, as I thought I had incorporated that report in the previous update. I missed it. After some searching, the 2016 report appears to the the latest available.

Upon reading this list in detail, it's a gold mine of information. The list is actually a very comprehensive resource. In addition to describing how your credit reports are used, it indicates which companies will supply free credit reports.
In light of this finding (a truckload of smaller credit reporting companies!), I have to wonder if the content of the 'short list' table is quite right.
=> I do not see the case for listing ARS (from the description and from the Dr Credit link provided, the case seems weak - in other words, if we list ARS, why not others). Would suggest to remove to stay focused.
=> I do see the case for ChexSystems (cf. "Collects and reports data on checking account applications, openings, and closures, including reasons for account closure.")
=> I might see the case for SageStream (cf. " reports to, auto lenders, credit card issuers, retailers, utilities and mobile phone service providers")
=> I am now quite puzzled about Innovis (description says "Collects and provides reports to assist with fraud detection and prevention."). Their Web site doesn't say much... And yet it is often described as the "4th (secret) credit bureau". Secretive indeed.
=> Are we missing an important one? It isn't clear to me where to draw the line...

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by mrc » Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:34 pm

siamond wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:22 am
...
In light of this finding (a truckload of smaller credit reporting companies!), I have to wonder if the content of the 'short list' table is quite right.
=> I do not see the case for listing ARS (from the description and from the Dr Credit link provided, the case seems weak - in other words, if we list ARS, why not others). Would suggest to remove to stay focused.
=> I do see the case for ChexSystems (cf. "Collects and reports data on checking account applications, openings, and closures, including reasons for account closure.")
=> I might see the case for SageStream (cf. " reports to, auto lenders, credit card issuers, retailers, utilities and mobile phone service providers")
=> I am now quite puzzled about Innovis (description says "Collects and provides reports to assist with fraud detection and prevention."). Their Web site doesn't say much... And yet it is often described as the "4th (secret) credit bureau". Secretive indeed.
=> Are we missing an important one? It isn't clear to me where to draw the line...
Unless and until there is definitive proof that freezing just the big 3 (+ Innovis + ChexSystems) is sufficient to keep my information away from the nefarious, all the minor reporting entities matter. Just because ordinary businesses may not routinely rely on the lesser known entities, without a freeze, what is to prevent bad guys from accessing information from them? Details of current accounts matter, as do an ability to confirm my information and add possibly to it.
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by siamond » Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:50 pm

mrc wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:34 pm
Unless and until there is definitive proof that freezing just the big 3 (+ Innovis + ChexSystems) is sufficient to keep my information away from the nefarious, all the minor reporting entities matter.
I share the feeling, but I am just trying to be practical here. We can't list them all on the Wiki page, so the best we can do is to provide a link to the document listing them all, and to provide an explicit short list on the Wiki page. Now how to decide where to draw the line for the short list is what I am struggling with. So far, I'd vote to keep what we have, except ARS. But that's more a gut feeling than a reasoned proposal.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Sep 17, 2017 3:05 pm

I would agree with removing ARS. The idea is that everyone knows about the "big 3", but not the others.

While it's helpful to the member(s) who've asked about ARS here, having ARS in the table implies that it's more important than the other companies who are not mentioned.

On an administrative note, I thought the credit reporting company tutorial information was helpful and have inserted the text into the Credit score and Credit cards articles.

Wiki editors:
The text is entered in one spot here: Template:Credit reporting companies, then linked from the other pages.
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by siamond » Sun Sep 17, 2017 3:56 pm

Ok, I removed ARS, and did a few cosmetic things. I think this is starting to look great. Many thanks to mrc for suggesting such new wiki page, very helpful.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:09 pm

In the "A credit freeze does not" section, I would recommending adding that a freeze does not affect your ability to use existing accounts like credit cards or loans. Some people think a freeze will shut down all their credit cards.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by siamond » Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:46 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:09 pm
In the "A credit freeze does not" section, I would recommending adding that a freeze does not affect your ability to use existing accounts like credit cards or loans. Some people think a freeze will shut down all their credit cards.
Good idea. Done with a quote from Krebs and minor reordering.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by mrc » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:43 am

Well done, and a great addition to an already great wiki!
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by siamond » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:24 pm

Hm, a credit freeze *might* have annoying consequences when buying new CDs, see this post:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=227301&p=3540447#p3540447

Let's wait & see for possible feedback, but it might be worth adding a note about that on the Wiki page if this is confirmed.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by need403bhelp » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:33 pm

siamond wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:24 pm
Hm, a credit freeze *might* have annoying consequences when buying new CDs, see this post:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=227301&p=3540447#p3540447

Let's wait & see for possible feedback, but it might be worth adding a note about that on the Wiki page if this is confirmed.
To be fair, your Chex report is pulled by many banks when you open a new account. A freeze of Chex would stop this new account opening.

Now, to be honest, I've always thought of this only for savings and checking accounts (the ones that tend to have a bonus and which is where most of my Chex knowledge comes from). But it certainly would make sense, that if a bank includes a CD as an account worthy of a Chex pull (basically, for them to make sure you haven't been bouncing checks or leaving negative balances on other accounts), then it makes sense you cannot open anew CD without thawing Chex.

Also, my Chex freeze was free. I imagine, then, that a temporary thaw would also be free and easily done online. So it doesn't seem, at least to me, like a HUGE hassle...

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by pondering » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:40 pm

Thanks for all the great work getting this page up and running
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by khh » Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:11 pm

need403bhelp wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:33 pm
siamond wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:24 pm
Hm, a credit freeze *might* have annoying consequences when buying new CDs, see this post:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=227301&p=3540447#p3540447

Let's wait & see for possible feedback, but it might be worth adding a note about that on the Wiki page if this is confirmed.
To be fair, your Chex report is pulled by many banks when you open a new account. A freeze of Chex would stop this new account opening.

Now, to be honest, I've always thought of this only for savings and checking accounts (the ones that tend to have a bonus and which is where most of my Chex knowledge comes from). But it certainly would make sense, that if a bank includes a CD as an account worthy of a Chex pull (basically, for them to make sure you haven't been bouncing checks or leaving negative balances on other accounts), then it makes sense you cannot open anew CD without thawing Chex.

Also, my Chex freeze was free. I imagine, then, that a temporary thaw would also be free and easily done online. So it doesn't seem, at least to me, like a HUGE hassle...
I've had a freeze at the big 3 for years and put on a freeze at Innovis and Chex last week. I wonder whether that will stop the credit card offerings I seem to get every week despite the freeze at the the big 3.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by need403bhelp » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:56 am

khh wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:11 pm
need403bhelp wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:33 pm
siamond wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:24 pm
Hm, a credit freeze *might* have annoying consequences when buying new CDs, see this post:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=227301&p=3540447#p3540447

Let's wait & see for possible feedback, but it might be worth adding a note about that on the Wiki page if this is confirmed.
To be fair, your Chex report is pulled by many banks when you open a new account. A freeze of Chex would stop this new account opening.

Now, to be honest, I've always thought of this only for savings and checking accounts (the ones that tend to have a bonus and which is where most of my Chex knowledge comes from). But it certainly would make sense, that if a bank includes a CD as an account worthy of a Chex pull (basically, for them to make sure you haven't been bouncing checks or leaving negative balances on other accounts), then it makes sense you cannot open anew CD without thawing Chex.

Also, my Chex freeze was free. I imagine, then, that a temporary thaw would also be free and easily done online. So it doesn't seem, at least to me, like a HUGE hassle...
I've had a freeze at the big 3 for years and put on a freeze at Innovis and Chex last week. I wonder whether that will stop the credit card offerings I seem to get every week despite the freeze at the the big 3.
You should be able to stop offers from companies with whom you do not have accounts at:

https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t

For those with whom you have existing accounts, there is usually a hidden option in online interface to unsubscribe from promotions.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:43 am

I just froze my credit at the big three agencies.

TransUnion was especially annoying with the hard up-sell to a paid product. They make it intentionally difficult to get to the credit freeze management page. I fixed that by updating the wiki with relevant link. :)

A few years ago, I received free credit monitoring from Experian's "ProtectMyID" product. I thought this was good enough.

With this latest Equifax fiasco and everyone rushing to freeze their credit, I took a hard look at what I had. Nope. My "protection" was a monitoring service for Equifax only. :annoyed

Since I had to create a login account with TransUnion, it was hard not to see the details of their TrueIdentity product. Sure enough, you don't get credit monitoring for all 3 agencies unless you pay for it.

The terms and conditions of these services are not worded clearly, as they don't say what's included in the free vs. paid services.

- Experian: ProtectMyID.com |Terms and Conditions
- TransUnion: Terms of Use | TrueIdentity

I have revised the wiki to add a "Free credit monitoring" section with this insight.

See: Credit freeze
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by khh » Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:37 pm

need403bhelp wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:56 am

You should be able to stop offers from companies with whom you do not have accounts at:

https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t

For those with whom you have existing accounts, there is usually a hidden option in online interface to unsubscribe from promotions.
Thanks for the tip. I was able to opt out for 5 years via an online request. You can make it permanent by mailing in the form. Didn't even have to give SSN.

need403bhelp
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by need403bhelp » Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:41 pm

khh wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:37 pm
need403bhelp wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:56 am

You should be able to stop offers from companies with whom you do not have accounts at:

https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t

For those with whom you have existing accounts, there is usually a hidden option in online interface to unsubscribe from promotions.
Thanks for the tip. I was able to opt out for 5 years via an online request. You can make it permanent by mailing in the form. Didn't even have to give SSN.
Glad to hear that it worked!

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by iceport » Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:06 am

First, I'd just like to thank everyone for writing this valuable wiki article. It's looking great!
LadyGeek wrote:
Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:43 am
I just froze my credit at the big three agencies.
You're lucky, LadyGeek. I reviewed the processes I went through at the big three 2 years ago, to see if I had any comments to contribute to the wiki page. As it turns out, I never did receive a PIN from Equifax, or a strong sense that the freeze worked. I used their website to access the security freeze process, and the results were vague. I have a note to a file that a PIN is outstanding, but I apparently let that slip until now. And now their page won't even load!

The easiest freeze was at TransUnion, where the online process went smoothly. Experian forced me to correspond by mail, confirming the freeze and issuing a PIN by mail about 10 days later.

I just have two minor comments on the wiki article:

— Somewhere in Section 2, it might be worth noting that, in addition to fees varying by state, the freezing processes may vary by state. When Experian kicked me out of the web-based process with instructions to use snail mail, I was under the distinct impression that the requirement was based on my state of residence (CT).

— The Consumers Union Guide To Security Freeze Protection has long been a valuable resource for understanding and navigating the credit freeze process. Their resource has been around for many years (long before I followed through with my credit freezes), and they seem to keep it up to date. So if I had a vote, I'd recommend that the Consumers Union site be added to the "external links" section for better visibility.

Again, thanks for developing this article!
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by LadyGeek » Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:09 pm

iceport wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:06 am
— Somewhere in Section 2, it might be worth noting that, in addition to fees varying by state, the freezing processes may vary by state. When Experian kicked me out of the web-based process with instructions to use snail mail, I was under the distinct impression that the requirement was based on my state of residence (CT).
Did you get kicked out for failing one of the identity questions? I don't see this as any different than failing a login (authentication) for a bank or financial institution. Once this happens, further access is blocked and you are forced you to contact them via another method such as phone or mail.

This just happened to my husband with TransUnion. The answers to the identity questions got mucked up and he was forced to do the freeze via phone. Calling them was an automated process. He easily answered the questions and was able to pick his own PIN. I suspect that calling from the phone number on record and entering the correct info was "good enough" to verify the ID.

Otherwise, I don't see any documentation which says the process is different from state to state.
iceport wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:06 am
— The Consumers Union Guide To Security Freeze Protection has long been a valuable resource for understanding and navigating the credit freeze process. Their resource has been around for many years (long before I followed through with my credit freezes), and they seem to keep it up to date. So if I had a vote, I'd recommend that the Consumers Union site be added to the "external links" section for better visibility.
Sure, the guide is now in the wiki. (To be fair, siamond had suggested that publication in an earlier post.)

See: Credit freeze
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by Mudpuppy » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:42 am

Consumer Reports just came out with this article about what to do beyond freezing at the big 4: https://www.consumerreports.org/equifax ... h-threats/

It might be worth incorporating into the Wiki article somehow.

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by learning_head » Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:39 am

Great page - thank you for putting it up, LadyGeek. Here are some clarification suggestions:

(1)
After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password.
Actually, if freezing online, the big 3 give you PIN right away. No snail mail involved. Chexsystems and Innovis snail mail the PINs today.

(2) When temporarily lifting a freeze online, it gets done very fast; not 3 days as the page mentions but within 15 minutes or so, or maybe even instantly. I am guessing this applies to all agencies (e.g. some state laws require this I believe), but personally experienced this and can confirm for ChexSystems and Equifax. I am guessing 3 days applies to when you make the request by snail mail.

(3) Fraud alert section:
A credit freeze locks down your credit.
I think this is confusing what "locking" down credit mean. In fact, TransUnion pushes its custom service for "locking" credit which reputable websites say is NOT the same as freezing credit, or at least cannot be trusted to be the same. I think a better description is published by CRAs and other sources, but effectively you could say a freeze makes your credit report completely inaccessibly by anyone other than companies you already deal with (and cases of law enforcement investigations).
A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity.
I think it's more accurate to say "A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report, which would show that they are then supposed to verify your identity". In other words, additional verification of identity happens after they get the report, not before.
Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts.
This is misleading. Credit freeze in fact does the above by not allowing businesses evaluate / see your credit worthiness. Fraud alert, on the other hand, would stop less businesses from opening fraudulent accounts because it relies more on businesses to verify your identity.

Editorial: there is a lot of repeated info in the "Placing a fraud alert" section:
current text wrote: Three national credit reporting companies keep records of your credit history. If someone has misused your personal or financial information, call one of the companies and ask for an initial fraud alert on your credit report.[9]

If you're concerned about identity theft, but haven't yet become a victim, you can also place an initial fraud alert. For example, you may want to place a fraud alert if your wallet, Social Security card, or other personal, financial or account information are lost or stolen.[9]

An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit, so it may try to contact you. The initial alert stays on your report for at least 90 days. You can renew it after 90 days. It allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies. Be sure the credit reporting companies have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you.[9]

You may also want to place a fraud alert if your personal information was exposed in a data breach. A fraud alert is free.[9]

Ask one of the three credit reporting companies to put a fraud alert on your credit report. They must tell the other two companies. An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. The alert lasts 90 days but you can renew it.[9]
I would suggest something more concise, without repeating info already presented just above this section, e.g.:
suggested text wrote: You can place an initial fraud alert on your credit report online or by calling any one of the three big credit reporting agencies. The agency then must, by law, notify the other two agencies on its own. You can place the initial fraud alert whether you were a victim of identity theft or if you are just concerned about it.

It is free to place the initial alert and it stays on your report for at least 90 days. You can renew it for free after 90 days any number of times. Be sure the credit reporting companies have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you.
I removed "It allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies." sentence as well - I am not clear what it's saying. Does it imply that placing fraud alert allows you to effectively review your your credit report more often than once a year per agency? (If so, I did not know this.) If not, I would just say "Fraud alert, just like credit freeze, does not interfere with your annual ability to get free credit report from each of the agencies". Then again, first section on the page already mentions this for credit freeze, and perhaps should be expanded to cover fraud alert too (i.e. fraud alert also does NOT do many of same things).

(4)
The most you can hope for is that credit monitoring services will alert you soon after an ID thief does steal your identity.
I think you mean "The most you can hope for is that credit monitoring services will alert you soon after an ID thief makes use of your stolen identity; i.e. sooner then you might have discovered on your own by reading your free annual credit report."

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by iceport » Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:42 am

LadyGeek wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:09 pm
iceport wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:06 am
— Somewhere in Section 2, it might be worth noting that, in addition to fees varying by state, the freezing processes may vary by state. When Experian kicked me out of the web-based process with instructions to use snail mail, I was under the distinct impression that the requirement was based on my state of residence (CT).
Did you get kicked out for failing one of the identity questions? I don't see this as any different than failing a login (authentication) for a bank or financial institution. Once this happens, further access is blocked and you are forced you to contact them via another method such as phone or mail.

This just happened to my husband with TransUnion. The answers to the identity questions got mucked up and he was forced to do the freeze via phone. Calling them was an automated process. He easily answered the questions and was able to pick his own PIN. I suspect that calling from the phone number on record and entering the correct info was "good enough" to verify the ID.

Otherwise, I don't see any documentation which says the process is different from state to state.
It was over 2 years ago, but I honestly don't remember messing up any of the ID validation process. It's possible. I thought there was either an implicit or explicit reference to my state of residence. Of course, it's possible I messed something up and my memory is faulty.

I'd be interested to know if anyone else from CT was forced to correspond with Experian by mail only.

EDIT: The Experian security freeze link has not been working for me for three days now. Is it my security settings, or is it the website? Does anyone else have any trouble getting the page to load through this link?
How do I place a security freeze on my Equifax credit file?

The easiest and fastest way to place a security freeze on your Equifax credit file is via our online process found at the following link.
https://www.freeze.equifax.com
Last edited by iceport on Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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learning_head
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by learning_head » Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:45 am

Potential additions to the page:

(1) How to check that your freeze is in place and working (e.g. after temporary lift or even to begin with)? One suggestion I heard was to try to increase credit limit on your credit card by a little bit. Some credit cards may do this based on prior (recent) reports they have about you, so you can ask, but many will try a pull from one of the CRAs and decline, as they should.

This suggests that even financial institutions where you have existing accounts can only do soft pulls, not hard ones.

I am hoping other people may contribute a better way.

(2) Free credit monitoring: Credit Karma should be covering TransUnion + Equifax (starting October). freecreditreport.com (going by memory) or Discover card provide free credit monitoring for Experian. I don't have experience with these - so just passing along what I heard. CreditKarma has a lot of complains at BBB and other sources; though many others praise them too. I would also clarify in section on what to do BEFORE freeze that signing up for CreditKarma requires full unfreeze (and therefore later on, full refreeze), not temporary lift which would auto-time-out.

(3) Section for potential hassles after placing freeze, including things like
- your insurance premiums may go up since insurance companies use credit reports (on each renewal)
- thaws that have to be pre planned when looking to open new accounts with government (e.g. online) or financial institutions, increase credit line limits, looking for new apartment, insurance companies, or even a job

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by cas » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:18 am

iceport wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:42 am
EDIT: The Experian security freeze link has not been working for me for three days now. Is it my security settings, or is it the website? Does anyone else have any trouble getting the page to load through this link?
How do I place a security freeze on my Equifax credit file?

The easiest and fastest way to place a security freeze on your Equifax credit file is via our online process found at the following link.
https://www.freeze.equifax.com
Do you mean "Equifax" rather than "Experian"? (The quote underneath your "Experian" question is about Equifax, with an Equifax link.)

If you mean "Equifax," I tried doing an Equifax credit freeze 5am-ish east coast time (theoretically a low traffic time of day) yesterday and today, for my husband and I. The page at that link loads just fine for me (Windows 7/Firefox), but when I press Submit I just get various versions of "System not available." (Just tested it again now - noon-ish east coast time - and the page loads fine, at a theoretically higher traffic time of day. Didn't try the submit.)

(Since this topic isn't overly wiki-page related (except to confirm that the link is correct), I might recommend that any further conversation on this topic move over to the "Equifax Freeze 100% Online" thread at viewtopic.php?f=2&t=227693 )

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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:07 pm

learning_head wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:39 am
Great page - thank you for putting it up, LadyGeek. Here are some clarification suggestions:
Thanks! I have incorporated your suggestions. The quoted posts below show what is modified differently than you've suggested.
learning_head wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:39 am
(3) Fraud alert section:
A credit freeze locks down your credit.
I think this is confusing what "locking" down credit mean. In fact, TransUnion pushes its custom service for "locking" credit which reputable websites say is NOT the same as freezing credit, or at least cannot be trusted to be the same. I think a better description is published by CRAs and other sources, but effectively you could say a freeze makes your credit report completely inaccessibly by anyone other than companies you already deal with (and cases of law enforcement investigations).
This is an important point. I revised the wording as "A credit freeze does not..." and placed it first in that section. The wording is from the from the Federal Trade Commission.
learning_head wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:39 am
Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts.
This is misleading. Credit freeze in fact does the above by not allowing businesses evaluate / see your credit worthiness. Fraud alert, on the other hand, would stop less businesses from opening fraudulent accounts because it relies more on businesses to verify your identity.
Good point. I found a Consumer Reports article which confirmed your statement and linked to it in the wiki. I revised the wording in that section.

See: Credit freeze
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by iceport » Fri Sep 29, 2017 12:52 pm

cas wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:18 am
iceport wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:42 am
EDIT: The Experian security freeze link has not been working for me for three days now. Is it my security settings, or is it the website? Does anyone else have any trouble getting the page to load through this link?
How do I place a security freeze on my Equifax credit file?

The easiest and fastest way to place a security freeze on your Equifax credit file is via our online process found at the following link.
https://www.freeze.equifax.com
Do you mean "Equifax" rather than "Experian"? (The quote underneath your "Experian" question is about Equifax, with an Equifax link.)
Yes, I meant Equifax. Sorry, I misspoke.
cas wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:18 am
(Since this topic isn't overly wiki-page related (except to confirm that the link is correct), I might recommend that any further conversation on this topic move over to the "Equifax Freeze 100% Online" thread at viewtopic.php?f=2&t=227693 )
I agree. (But the page has never, ever loaded for me since I originally used it 2 years ago, no matter what time of day I try...)
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Re: Wiki article - Credit freeze

Post by flamesabers » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:09 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:42 am
Consumer Reports just came out with this article about what to do beyond freezing at the big 4: https://www.consumerreports.org/equifax ... h-threats/

It might be worth incorporating into the Wiki article somehow.
Since the article mentioned driver's license as a potential target, would now be a good time to upgrade my driver's license to the enhanced driver's license? I haven't upgraded my driver's license yet as my state of Minnesota doesn't require me to yet and I already have a military ID to get aboard flights and such.

I have some comments/questions on the agencies list in this article.

MIB

It says on their website:
You will not have an MIB Consumer File unless you have applied for individually underwritten life or health insurance in the last seven years.
I'm assuming if you get your life/health insurance through your employer you won't have a file with this agency. Is that correct?

Telecheck
To verify your identity, with your request please include:
a daytime contact phone number
a copy of your driver’s license
your social security number
a copy of a voided check
Why do they need a copy of a voided check? Nobody else has asked for that. :annoyed

Milliman

What's the best way to request your report? Can I mail in the required information to their main address?

Milliman IntelliScript
15800 W. Bluemound Road
Suite 100
Brookfield, WI 53005

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