Virginia’s Security Freeze Law

April 30, 2009

Dear Constituents,

I’m writing to let you know that a great new law, which I voted in support of, has now become effective. Known as Virginia’s Security Freeze Law, all citizens of Virginia now have the right to restrict access to their credit reports and lock out anyone seeking to open a new account, or fraudulently establish new credit in their name. This is great news for you because you now have the ability to freeze your personal information so that a credit reporting agency is prohibited from releasing your credit report, or any of the information in it, without your prior authorization. My hope is that this law will not only give you better control over your finances, but it will also serve as an additional weapon in protecting more Virginians from becoming victims of the ever-growing crime of identity theft.

To figure out exactly how it works, I have done a little research to make it easier for you. What I have found is that any Virginian resident wishing to place a freeze on their credit files, may do so by sending a request, and paying a $10 fee, to each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Those agencies being Transunion, Experian and Equifax). No fees will be charged to victims of identity theft who submit a valid police report with their freeze request. Once the freeze is in place, the consumer will receive a personal identification number (PIN) from the credit reporting agency. The PIN can then be used to remove the freeze on a temporary or permanent basis. For your convenience, I have included the following websites of all three credit agencies: Transunion: http://www.transunion.com/ , Experian: http://www.experian.com/ and Equifax: http://www.equifax.com/home/.

When I personally went to TransUnion to look up my credit score, I had to give them my information, answer a couple security questions that only I would know about my account, and then give them a credit card to charge for their services. After this, it immediately took me to a page where I could choose one of three options, with the third option being to freeze my account. When I chose that option, the site then stated the terms of use and required the additional ten dollar fee. That’s it! The whole process took less than ten minutes! And best of all, unlike many states, there is no fee charged to you to have your security freeze removed.

There are a few things to keep in mind, though. If you choose to freeze your accounts, you will need to plan ahead to ensure timely processing of any legitimate credit applications. While it shouldn’t take long to freeze your accounts, it may take the credit reporting agencies up to three business days to lift the security freeze and allow the processing of valid credit requests for items such as mortgages, credit cards, wireless phones, vehicle loans, rental housing, utilities authorizations, etc…

As a consumer, you should also be aware that certain individuals, such as prospective employers, law enforcement, child support agencies, tax authorities and other government agencies may continue to access credit reports for legitimate reasons even though your credit reports may have a security freeze in place. The freeze is merely a means to help stop identity theft from occurring within the private sector. When a security freeze is in place at all three major credit bureaus, an identity thief cannot open a new account because the potential creditor or seller of services will not be able to check the credit file. However, law enforcement still will be to obtain all such information.

I hope this information will help you in determining how to better protect your finances. If there is anything else that I can be of assistance with, please feel free to contact me at 703-451-3555.

Yours for good government,

David B. Albo

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