In early November 2006, California’s Civil Code Section 1785.11.2, the “security freeze” law was struck down as unconstitutional. This law allowed consumers to place a hold on their credit report so that they must approve any attempts to gain access to their credit information. This is believed to hinder those who would steal your identity and try to obtain loans and credit cards with your information since these would require a credit report before they would be issued. This step is much stronger than placing a fraud alert on a credit profile.
The California District 5 Court of Appeals struck down this statute as unconstitutional because it denied the access of public information such as bankruptcies and foreclosures in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. For the time being the law is still in effect over information in the credit report that is not public information.
Thirteen other states have laws similar to that of California including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Vermont. Illinois, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin all have similar laws that will come in to affect January 1, 2007, and Utah’s security freeze law will be affective September 1, 2008.
In three other states a security freeze can be put in place if you have filed an identity theft complaint: South Dakota, Texas, and Washington. Hawaii and Kansas will join these ranks as of January 1, 2007.
There is no sign on how the ruling in California will affect these other laws. It is quite possible that other credit reporting agencies will seek to have the laws in their states blocked from being affective.
Regardless of which state you live in, it is important to keep on top of your credit. You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies each year. These can be obtained through http://www.annualcreditreport.com. When you obtain a copy of your credit report, look over it for any suspicious activity. You will also want to properly dispose of your junk mail by shredding it in order to lessen your risk of falling victim to identity theft.
Ronnica Rothe graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Oklahoma. She is currently enrolled at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.
She is a regular contributor to educational information disseminated through Fiscal Progress. Related information can be found at http://www.fiscalprogress.org