No Cigar For Congress, But Credit Freeze Now Free

012-800x600 C99 Essay Credit Freeze.jpg

Seems like eons ago when we first learned of the Equifax security breach and all the fail that followed. You know, like, the mgmt sold their stock before reporting the breach?

Here, happy Saturday, have a laugh and refresh your memory about how screwed so many people were and still are .

Also exposed were people in the UK. And great to see, they fined Equifax 500,000 pounds. But the fine would have been in the millions had the event happened after they passed their new law.

People in the UK's gov't a at least got a fine, and under a new more comprehensive law with bigger bite will get millions for future breaches, but what did we in the US get?

Free Credit Freezes

Well, thanks to Senator Elizabeth Warren we got Free Credit Freezes! (Yah, yah, Iknow, she is no progressive, but I like the fact that this actually passed. Anything pass with real teeth. Nope.) Warren still pushing but...

There is MUCH more to be done, of course.

Here is one of the better takes I have found on what one should consider doing:

News Release
Contact
Mike Litt,
Tomorrow's National Free Credit Freeze Law
For Immediate Release
Thursday, September 20, 2018

A new federal law will eliminate fees for getting and removing credit freezes across the country at the three nationwide credit bureaus on September 21st. The consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG recommends getting credit freezes, not the similar locks offered by the bureaus, to prevent new account identity theft.

"It’s about time the credit bureaus stopped charging us for the right to control our own information. We didn’t give them permission to collect or sell our information in the first place," said Mike Litt, U.S. PIRG’s consumer campaign director.

U.S. PIRG points out the following consumer tips about credit freezes:

By freezing access to your credit reports, you’re stopping identity thieves who apply for new accounts in your name using your stolen Social Security number. The new law also lets guardians create and freeze credit files for minors.

Because creditors run credit checks with any one or a combination of the three big credit bureaus, you need to block access to your reports with each of the three individually. Getting a freeze with one bureau but not the others is like locking your front door but leaving your garage and back door wide open.

You can place freezes online with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can place them by mail or by phone.

You can easily temporarily lift a freeze when you want to apply for new credit, or permanently remove a freeze.

Each bureau will give you a PIN with your credit freeze. You will use this PIN when you want to lift a freeze to apply for new credit.

If you are applying for credit, try to find out which credit bureau the business uses to check credit reports. You can save some time by only lifting your freeze for that credit bureau.

Make sure to account for the time it can take to lift a freeze. In most cases, if you request a lift online or over the phone, your report can be unfrozen within minutes (legally, it has to be done within an hour.) It can take longer if you don’t have your PIN, so make sure to keep your PIN in a safe, memorable place where you can quickly retrieve it when needed. If you request a freeze via U.S. mail, it can take up to three days after the bureau receives your request.

Some news outlets have reported that cell phone companies have opened fraudulent accounts using credit reports provided by the National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE). We therefore also recommend freezing your credit report at NCTUE.

The credit bureaus offer a similar (but different) product called a credit lock. Credit freezes are a right mandated by law. Companies don’t get to set conditional terms on freezes, like they can on credit locks. For example, if you sign up for free credit locks with Equifax and TransUnion, they can use your information for marketing purposes and share it with other financial companies that want to sell you something. TransUnion makes you agree to an arbitration clause.

In addition to recommending credit freezes, U.S. PIRG offers tips, explained further in its recent report, to help consumers prevent and detect other types of identity theft and fraud:

Existing Account Fraud: Check your monthly credit card and bank statements.

Tax Refund Fraud: File your taxes as soon as possible, before thieves do. Also, if you qualify, get an Identity Protection (IP) PIN.

Social Security Benefits Fraud: Sign up for your “my Social Security” (MySSA) account before thieves claim it and change your direct deposit info to route into their checking accounts.

Health Care Services / Medical Benefits Fraud: Sign up for online accounts with your health care and insurance providers to periodically check for any fraudulent services on your statements.

Other Fraudulent Activity: Check your free annual consumer reports with companies that specialize in collecting information often misused by criminals.

Phishing Scams: Ignore requests for personal information by email, links, phone calls, etc.

“The threat of identity theft is unfortunately all too real. But you can take steps to prevent and detect different types.” said Litt. “Start with credit freezes if you don’t have them already. You should get your free credit freezes today, because each day that goes by is another day an identity thief could open accounts and rack up a ton of debt in your name.”

###

U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.

AskBobRankin.com post https://askbobrankin.com/alert_freeze_your_credit_files_for_free.html?aw... pointed to other agencies than the big three.

But in searching Twitter I found even more. Bloody hell.

At least in the EU and UK they have instituted better requirements and US companies and organizations who want to operate there have to comply.

Here in the US we are still quite exposed.

How many Americans will have the time or mental energy to do all of the above?

Heh.

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divineorder's picture

Freeze.

For several years we have subscribed to askbobrankin.com because he often has usable tips about computers, phones, security issues, etc. We had read his recent post about free credit freezes, but had put it off .

This morning we decided to go for it.

Really helpful: Bob has the links to the actual credit freeze pages so we could avoid wading through the whole site of each credit reporting org. The experience was time consuming but I am willing to bet is was much quicker than trying to do it on the phone or by mail.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

Went to link for National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange Freeze Online .

Entered the required info.

Then the one time pdf with my code would not open, just kept opening other windows. Fuggggg.

Heh.

Now I have no 10 digit pin to lift or modify the freeze.

Have to call their number Monday and see what can be done. Oh well.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

@divineorder that shows how truly screwed this all is . Equifax has the contract to run NCTUE (founded by ATT) freezes. What could possibly go wrong?

Go here to see: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/05/another-credit-freeze-target-nctue-c...

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snoopydawg's picture

Thank you for posting this. And it's about time that congress passed a law that helps us. Equfax was supposed to be fined, but Mnulvany decided that he wasn't going to go ahead with it.

"It’s about time the credit bureaus stopped charging us for the right to control our own information. We didn’t give them permission to collect or sell our information in the first place," said Mike Litt, U.S. PIRG’s consumer campaign director.

My SS# has been stolen and someone in Texas is working under it. I've been in touch with the SS department and of course filed a claim with the FBI. I didn't even think about contacting the other agencies mentioned here.

Thanks again.

Is this picture one you took? If so it's beautiful.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

divineorder's picture

@snoopydawg All the best for a speedy resolution.

Our future?

Facebook will never be completely secure
And neither will any other service you rely on.
Chris Velazco

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divineorder's picture

@snoopydawg That was taken along the coast in Pacific Grove near Lover's Point, last spring, when we were on our annual camping trip in Monterey's Veteran's Memorial Park.

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WindDancer13's picture

but Thank You for the information. It is very important for those with more than one dollar and ninety-eight cents in the bank.

Equifax screwed up my account years ago. They changed my first name and want me to MAIL them copies of my driver's license and social security card to correct their mistake. Not happening.

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.--Aristotle
If there is no struggle there is no progress.--Frederick Douglass

divineorder's picture

@WindDancer13 We had trouble years ago on a couple mortgage application closings because someone with my name was a college professor with very bad credit.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,..."

Where "Papers" is understood to include electronic writing and images. And it needs to make it that no corporation nor private person can search or size anything from our communications AND our devices without our consent. And "Shall be imprisoned for no less than..." rides with that.

And advertisers and Total Information Awareness, er, FaceGoogTwit should be paying us for selling my info, if we want to give it.

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divineorder's picture

@jim p Especially about the imprison part.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Pricknick's picture

A very useful diary.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

divineorder's picture

@Pricknick glad you thought it was useful.

I was amazed that children need to be protected from id theft.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Edited: to add link NPR "Food for Thought" article: No Cash Needed At This Cafe. Students Pay The Tab With Their Personal Data
First comment on HackerNews about that:

HN 8 hours ago [-]

You should assume that Equifax or the like will eventually implement a Chinese style social credit system which Banks, Employers and Landlords etc will use and will be judged legal because "contracts"

creepy
---
Outlaw usury, don't enshrine it. I'm sorry people still fall for the "credit freeze" security comb over, the bankster kabuki.

A Short Review of the Historical Critique of Usury
http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/Articles/1998_usury.htm

I jumped off the "credit worthiness" hamster wheel two years ago. Usury is out of control in the U.S. and around the world, some banks here charge 25% interest and pay 0% on savings? Just like the mafia or a loan shark in the olden days. I was paying far less interest when fraud showed up on my statement. The security specialist I spoke to on the phone was not interested at all in finding out how it happened, in fact he told me it was impossible. They just write it off and charge customers more interest. That's the system, badly designed and insecure chips on plastic.

good luck
peace

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divineorder's picture

@eyo @eyo with credit for sure including some of my friends and relatives.

Fortunately we have very rarely EVER paid anything but mortgage loan interest and did that with no regrets. Been very good to us in the past.

Heh. We pay off credit card balances each month without fail, monitoring spending daily so we don't overspend. Banks would quickly go bankrupt if they depended on us. We do all our real banking with credit union.

A couple of times our credit card number has been stolen. One time someone purchased transit tickets in London. Another time someone paid ACT fees in California! Both times we weren't out any cash but who knows in future?

I wouldn't feel too sorry for people falling for 'credit combover bankster kabuki.' People fall for all kinds of things in this society.

I hear you though. Right now we are supporting the movements for Public Banking and Postal Banks.

Credit card bonus air miles offers are my big weakness and those miles fund my global warming air travel addiction, with budget travel trips to Costa Rica and countries in southern Africa most every year. I know this bad for me and the planet but like with most serious addictions am powerless to stop. The planet will soon stop it for me am sure.

Thanks for the links,eyo!

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@divineorder huh, that made me LOL when you said "get in trouble". As if... oh, never mind. Go forth and be happy with the status quo why not. What's another couple degrees when it's already hell.

I wish I could have been happy consuming more than I ever needed, but it's not in me, it never was, it never will be. Too many people suffer within the system, I can't ignore them. It's a bummer, I'm sick all the time about it with nowhere to go. wah

peace

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divineorder's picture

@eyo

With you on needed a new system. But while we work toward that, bet many will still want what you call 'combover' to try and protect their children etc.

YMMV

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@divineorder thanks, I keep falling back asleep. And thanks a lot for not taking that how it sounded, when I reread the Subject it was too harsh. Anyway, I do want to be helpful in my community and not just sit around bitching about stuff. You know my neighbors call the cops on anyone who doesn't own property? We can't even cut weeds or pick up trash in neglected areas without the pigs showing up to "warn and advise" us to move along. I hate that I can't escape from this place. It's nasty so am I.

Being a by-product of a toxic environment is no fun, especially at the end. feh

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divineorder's picture

@eyo

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

The info at the following link on why postal banking is needed and wanted is both heartbreaking and inspiring :

http://www.campaignforpostalbanking.org/know-the-facts

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

TheOtherMaven's picture

@divineorder

that (some?) banks just can't or won't. Money orders, for instance. Local bank doesn't offer that service - post office, no problemo.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

divineorder's picture

@TheOtherMaven My wife jb was reading teh link and found it interesting that the history of Postal Banking.

Seems we had it at one time, but it went away . Can guess why.

http://www.campaignforpostalbanking.org/know-the-facts/

No. The United States had a Postal Savings System from 1911-1967 which in 1947 had $3.4 billion in assets (more than $35 billion in today’s dollars) or 10 about percent of the assets of entire commercial banking system. And worldwide, 1.5 billion people[i] receive some financial services through their postal service. Postal unions in the United States have been calling for postal banking for years. But the idea got a big boost in January 2014 when the USPS Office of Inspector General issued its report, Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved.[ii]

Sources

[i] Universal Postal Union, http://www.upu.int/en/activities/financial-inclusion/about-financial-inc...

[ii] Office of Inspector General, USPS, Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved, January 27, 2014.

The underserved include:

The Campaign for Postal Banking is a coalition of consumer, labor, financial reform, and community groups. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors[i] have voiced their support. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz included a call for a postal savings bank in his report, Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.[ii]

Senator Warren, champion of financial reform, writes:

“Banks are rapidly abandoning low-income and rural neighborhoods. … Luckily, there is an organization with the public mission, the infrastructure, the experience and the well-trained employees needed to help address this problem: the U.S. Postal Service. … The Postal Service already has a presence in low-income and rural communities, and it could leverage that infrastructure to provide access to lower-cost basic banking services.”[iii]

[i] http://www.usmayors.org/resolutions/82nd_Conference/metro07.asp

[ii] Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy

[iii] “The Big Benefits of Postal Banking,” Elizabeth Warren, US News and World Report, July 7, 2014.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.