Identity theft is one of the fastest growing financial crimes. Nearly 10 million Americans fall victim each year. The Identity Theft Resource Center reported in 2005, on average, an ID theft victim of new account and other fraud spent 60 hours resolving problems brought on by ID theft, those victims of existing accounts spent an average of 15 hours resolving problems. A 2003 Federal Trade Commission study found that identity theft also costs U.S. businesses nearly $48 billion annually, and consumers an additional $5 billion per year.
A security freeze lets consumers stop thieves from getting credit in their names. A security freeze locks, or freezes, access to the consumer credit report and credit score. Without this information, a business will not issue new credit to a thief. When the consumer wants to get new credit, he or she uses a PIN to unlock access to the credit file. For states that give consumers this important weapon to prevent identity theft, click here.