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State mandates low-cost, free credit freezes

Action taken to help fight identity theft

POSTED: August 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.
ATLANTA — Effective Aug. 1, low- and no-cost credit freezes will be available to all Georgians. A credit freeze allows consumers to bar access to their credit files with the three major credit reporting agencies, prohibiting identity thieves from fraudulently opening new accounts or lines of credit in a victim’s name. Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the legislation into law May 13.
“Compared to credit monitoring and similar services, a credit freeze provides superior protection because it is the only proactive tool that stops new account fraud before it starts,” said Allison Wall, executive director of Georgia Watch.
House Bill 130, which authorizes credit freeze in Georgia, caps the fees that credit reporting agencies can charge for a freeze at $3. Georgians aged 65 and older, and victims of identity theft who can produce a copy of a police incident report, can request a credit freeze for free.
Each temporary thaw of a freeze to allow approved access to a credit file will also cost $3, and will be available electronically within 15 minutes of request, keeping on-the-spot credit an option for shoppers. Consumers will be issued a personal identification number, which can be used to thaw or permanently lift a freeze by phone and over the Internet.
Requests for credit freezes must be made by certified mail, and proof of identity and residence will be required.
Georgia Watch board member Clark Howard has called Georgia’s “the best credit freeze law in the United States. Now Georgians have the best way possible to shut down identity thieves cold.”
Georgia Watch has recognized the efforts of Reps. Rob Teilhet, D-Smyrna, Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, Sens. Bill Hamrick, R-Carrollton,
and Renee Unterman, R-Loganville, all of whom advocated in both chambers for the lowest possible freeze fee cap.

 

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