A freeze on your credit account can stop identity theft.

If you put a “freeze” on your credit accounts at the three major credit agencies, they will not issue a credit report to anyone unless you take the freeze off. With no credit reports, someone who is trying to steal your identity cannot open new accounts using your name. This is a good protection, but it has its downside. You have to unfreeze your account every time you want to apply for credit anywhere. That can take 72 hours in some cases.

States that allow some (or all) consumers to use these freezes include (as of this writing) California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania may soon be added to the list.

To execute a freeze go to the three major credit agency web sites:

www.equifax.com (click on customer service)
www. experian.com/consumer/security_freeze.html
www.transunion (click Personal, “Fraud and Identity theft” and “Preventing.”)

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