Experian and Equifax last week made it official–like TransUnion, they’ll be offering consumers the ability to freeze their credit reports. Sandra Block atÂ USA TodayÂ wrote a nice little summary of what freezes are all about.
Basically, this will extend credit locks to folks in the 11 states that didn’t have already have laws allowing their residents to freeze their credit reports (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia) and in the five that limit protection to ID theft victims or those who have been told their data has been compromised (Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, South Dakota and Washington).
This is a good thing, although I still believe (as I wrote inÂ “Lock your credit away from ID thieves”) that it’s not an option most people will want to take once they understand the costs and hassles involved. There will be fees for locking your report and again for unlocking it when you need credit (figure around $30 each time for all three bureaus) and a delay of a few days–no more instant credit.
Those are among the reasons only 60,000 to 70,000 people have taken advantage of freezes so far, according to the bureaus. We have to consider the source, of course–bureaus are in business to sell credit info–but no one would contend that more than a tiny fraction of those who have had the ability to freeze their credit so far have done so.
Still, it’s something that should be available for everyone who wants this layer of protection.