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Consumer Reports supports Senate bill creating default security freeze for consumers

Bill prevents identity theft fraud by giving consumers control over when creditors and insurers can access credit reports

WASHINGTON, D.C.  A new bill introduced by Senators Jack Reed and Chris Van Hollen will help protect consumers from identity theft fraud by giving them greater control over when creditors and insurers can access their credit files, according to Consumer Reports.  The bill creates a default security freeze for all consumers that will prevent identity thieves from opening fraudulent credit accounts and insurance policies using stolen personal information.

“Data security breaches have become so common that we’re all vulnerable to having our sensitive financial information fall into the hands of crooks,” said Syed Ejaz, assistant policy analyst for Consumer Reports.  “Millions of Americans have their financial lives turned upside down every year after identity thieves use stolen information to open fraudulent accounts. This bill will protect Americans from identity theft fraud and give them greater financial security by locking down credit files so no one can gain access without permission.”

Under the bill, credit bureaus would have to get the consumer’s affirmative consent and verify the consumer’s identity before giving creditors and insurers access to credit files.   If the credit bureau is unable to get consent or verify the applicant’s identity, the crook won’t be able to obtain credit or insurance using the consumer’s personal information.

Consumers currently have the ability to put a security freeze on their credit report for free but they must do so at all three major credit bureaus.  Senator Reed’s bill simplifies this process by making the freeze the default setting for credit reports.  Consumers can lift the freeze on their credit files when applying for a loan or new account.

Michael McCauley, mmccauley@consumer.org, 415-431-6747, ext. 7606