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District Residents Can Soon Buy Credit Safeguards

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Beginning in July, District residents can request that security freezes be placed on their credit reports at the three major credit bureaus. A security freeze prohibits the credit-reporting agency, except in some limited situations, from releasing all or any part of a credit report or any information derived from it without a consumer's authorization. A security freeze is designed to help prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent.

All consumers can request a security freeze for a $10 fee, or more realistically $30 to protect themselves at all three bureaus. Consumers who are victims of identity theft cannot be charged a fee. Residents will have to send the request for a freeze via certified mail.

Virginia and Maryland do not have credit-freeze laws, but legislatures in both states are considering measures to enact this useful consumer protection.

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