There’s been a lot of interest in placing a security freeze on your credit reports. Consumers are interested because it prevents credit theft. Credit agencies are interested because it breaks their business model. Remember, nothing is free, someone’s getting paid for it somehow, and if you aren’t paying, you’re the product, not the customer.
A true security freeze locks down your credit report completely – no one who doesn’t already have a credit relationship with you can get access to the report. This means that if you have a credit card from a bank, the bank can periodically pull your credit report to make sure you still are a safe risk. But no one else – including companies that want to sell you ‘pre-approved credit cards’, or sell you credit monitoring services, can get access. The latter two are large revenue generators for credit agencies, so a freeze threatens their business model.
TransUnion and now Equifax both are offering ‘credit lock’ services. These are not true credit freezes. They allow the companies to continue to sell and market your credit information and contain liability limitation and arbitration clauses that may impinge your rights in a future breach. The net is that they preserve the agencies’ business models, and that’s why they’re free. It’s also why they charge for a credit freeze – to replace revenue lost when customers from remove themselves from the database (that’s also why the ‘opt out’ provisions usually have a time-limited expiration).
I’ll talk more about the fundamental problem in another post – data ownership versus data stewardship. But for now, I still believe that we need legislation that mandates free, true, security freezes be made available by all four agencies, and that they each have a streamlined process to correct information on file that prevents the consumer from getting one.
Don’t be fooled – get a real freeze from the links below – and watch out for attempts to route you the ‘free’ services.
Watch out for a push to ‘TrueIdentity’ which is not a freeze.
So far, no non-freeze services from them
Watch out for their new ‘lifetime credit lock’ service.
So far, no non-freeze services from them. Note – this is the one everyone misses when placing freezes.