Thursday, April 28, 2005

Consumer Credit FREEZE in Washington

Washington Governor signs security freeze legislation!

May 10, 2005, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed SB 5418. This new law gives Washington state residents the right to place a security freeze to lock up their credit files so that new creditors can't check the consumer's credit file unless the consumer chooses to unfreeze, or unlock the file. The right to freeze the credit file applies to identity theft victims and to consumer who have been notified that the security of their personal information has been breached
published by the Consumers Union

Consumers Union is urging consumers to support tougher state laws that would increase your protection. Considering that 9.9 million Americans are vicitmized by Identity theft each year--your chances of experiencing loss through identity theft increases daily.
To support the freeze on credit information access without your permission in your state, visit: https://secure2.convio.net/cu/site/Advocacy?page=UserAction&cmd=display&id=379

This petition is being presented to state legislatures by Consumer's Union. It would mean that individual consumers could 'freeze' their reports preventing companies from issuing new credit accounts and having access to your credit report without your permission. The downside is that you would have to temporarily 'unfreeze' your credit if you were legitimately seeking new credit. Another upside would be no more unsolicited credit card offers in the mail!

Brokers Support Protections
The Mortgage Brokers Association and other advocacy groups are urging congress to enact stronger laws protecting consumers from the wave of new identity thefts. If you have good credit, you will be the primary target. It really pays to review your credit report at least once a year (and several months before applying for a new loan) to be sure your information is accurate.

Every day we read of new security breaches at universities, retail stores and payroll companies. The ability of online hackers to break into the databases of these firms is beyond comprehension. We all hope it won't happen to us. At the current rate of ID theft in the USA, 19 incidents occur every minute.

The FBI is also taking a very strong interest in these matters as they relate directly to the mortgage industry. According to the Washingon Mortgage Brokers Institute, 80% of victim fraud is committed by insiders in the financial industry...including lawyers, appraisers, title companies, brokers, loan originators, bank employees, processors, etc. The problem is compounded by lax rules and regulations. For example, if your broker doesn't shred all sensitive documents, their trash could be the source of a wealth of information for identity thieves. And believe me...thieves know where to look. Fortunately, tighter regulations are being proposed to enforce better security procedures throughout the mortgage industry. One such safeguard is the standard background check that lenders undertake before hiring people to work with secure information. Unfotunately, a really smart con will find some new way to outfox the system...so the system is evolving to stop these new practices.

Acts before Congress and your local state legislatures are being debated to create better safeguards. While some Bills exist that require companies to tell you when your personal information security has been breached...they first have to know about it! Companies who have been caught out (DFW shoes is one) often don't know the extent of the seciurity breach and by the time they notify consumers it may be too late to stop an attack on your personal credit.


Contact your elected officials here: www.congress.org
Wishing you every credit sanity! Loannetter
(c) 2005 Susan Templeton