Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Another tool for fighting credit card fraud

This information is only loosely related to real estate -- you need good credit to buy property, after all -- but important enough that I want to spread the word.

Effective September 1, 2008, all Washington residents are able to freeze their credit reports, which makes it nearly impossible for an unauthorized person to open a credit account in your name. Previously, only those who were already victims of identity theft were eligible to instigate such a freeze.

A security freeze bars credit bureaus from sending your financial history and credit scores to potential creditors without your authorization by requiring a PIN (personal identification number) code to temporarily lift the freeze.

To implement a security freeze, send a letter and documentation of your identity to the three major credit-reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

If you are 65 or older, the service is free. If you are under 65 years of age, the cost is $10/agency. The charge to lift a freeze varies by agency.

For details, go to www.atg.wa.gov.

I hope you will take advantage of this valuable option and communicate your appreciation to our legislators.

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