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"Security Freeze" Defends New Yorkers from Identity Theft

February 6, 2007

New Yorkers have a new law protecting them from identity theft. As part of "National Consumer Protection Week," consumers are being reminded they may request a "credit freeze" on all credit reports bearing their name. The freeze is instated when a consumer sends certified letters to each of the the three national credit-check companies.

The AARP's Yvette Martinez says the effort is worthwhile, as nine million Americans fall victim to identity theft each year.

"Once they send in that request to put a freeze on the credit report, consumers have to be called each and every time a creditor is seeking to check their credit. It's the best prevention to stop identity thieves cold."

New York lawmakers passed the "Security Freeze" law during the last session, to help stop $56 billion in yearly losses to identity thieves.

Ann Jack became a victim of identity theft when someone intercepted and used an unsolicited credit card sent to her in the mail.

"They activated it, and they used it; it wasn't a credit card that I was using, so I really didn't expect a bill. I wasn't watching for it, because I never used it. Well, I went ballistic because I knew they weren't my charges and it was quite a bit of money."

A credit freeze costs nothing, but Martinez warns consumers may have to pay a small fee to free their credit next time they apply for a loan or mortgage.

"It can take months, even years to clear a consumer's name when ID theft ruins their credit. So, paying just $5 to re-open the credit line when applying for a load is a very, very small amount for such great piece of mind."

Security Freeze information is available online at

Michael Clifford/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - NY