Great page - thank you for putting it up, LadyGeek. Here are some clarification suggestions:
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.
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.
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.
You may also want to place a fraud alert if your personal information was exposed in a data breach. A fraud alert is free.
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.
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).
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."