From Hillsborough County Government Online:
According to statistics from the Federal Trade Commission’s 2011 Consumer Sentinel, Florida had the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints in the nation.
Many Florida consumers are unaware of a valuable tool available since 2006 that allows them to freeze credit reports to combat identity theft and prevent financial loss.
What you should know about a credit report security freeze:
- A security freeze means that credit files cannot be shared with potential creditors.
- Any consumer may place a security freeze on his or her credit report.
- An identity thief who has stolen someone’s name and Social Security number will not be able to obtain new credit in that name as credit files are essentially locked.
- Companies where the victim has existing accounts will still be able to obtain credit information.
- Consumers will still be able to use their credit cards, pay their mortgages and car loans.
- Law enforcement and certain government agencies will still have limited access.
- Order free copies of your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com to review them for accuracy and errors. Make sure errors are corrected prior to freezing your credit files.
The cost to place a freeze on credit files:
- The service is free to Florida seniors age 65 and older, and to victims of identity theft.
- The cost is $10 per credit bureau for consumers under age 65 who have not been a victim of ID theft to place a credit report security freeze.
- Removing or temporary lifting a security freeze costs another $10 each.
How to freeze a credit report:
- Two credit bureaus provide oline service to consumers to issue a security freeze: 1) www.transunion.com/securityfreeze, 2) www.experian.com/freeze.
- Equifax requires consumers to make a written request to P. O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 33048.
Log onto the County’s Consumer Protection Agency website and click on “Identity theft” to obtain a copy of Security Freeze Information, or call 813-903-3430.