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Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation

 

Credit Reporting Agencies Security Freezes 10-07 - Advisory Notices

 

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October 10, 2007

On May 8, 2007, Governor Martin O'Malley signed House Bill 117 which allows a consumer to place a security freeze on his/her consumer credit report. The security freeze blocks valuable identifiable information in the credit report and prevents identity thieves and other predators from accessing that information.

The purpose of this Advisory is to outline the amended provisions of the Consumer Credit Reporting Act. A copy of the enrolled House Bill 117 (enacted as Ch. 308) can be found at the Maryland General Assembly website, and will be codified as Section 14-1212.1, Commercial Law Article, Md. Code Annotated. The effective date of Chapter 308 is January 1, 2008.

Bill Summary

When a consumer elects to place the security freeze, the consumer reporting agency must place the freeze within five business days after receiving the request. Beginning July 1, 2008, this period decreases to three business days. Consumer reporting agencies that meet certain criteria are exempt from placing a security freeze on consumer reports.

Frequently Asked Questions Highlighting Chapter 308

  • What exactly is a Security Freeze? A security freeze is a restriction placed on a consumer's credit report at the request of the consumer that prohibits a consumer credit reporting agency from releasing the credit report, or any information derived from the credit report, without the express authorization of the consumer. Security freezes are designed to prevent credit reporting businesses from releasing your credit report without your consent. However, consumers should be aware that using a security freeze to control access to the personal and financial information in their credit files may delay, interfere with or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent requests or applications made regarding new extensions of credit, or other purposes for which credit information may be needed.
     
  • How do consumers get the security freeze placed on their credit reports? The consumer must request that the credit reporting agency place the security freeze on the consumer's credit report. The consumer may contact the credit reporting agency and make the request by certified mail, electronic mail, or, under specified circumstance, through the consumer credit reporting agency's website. Beginning January 1, 2010, the request can be made by telephone. The agency may require that the requesting consumer provide certain personal information to confirm the requester's identity.
     
  • What are the specific exceptions involved in this process? Among other exceptions, a security freeze does not apply if you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your credit report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control, or similar activities.
     
  • Can the security freeze be lifted or removed? Yes. While a security freeze is in place, the consumer may temporarily lift the security freeze to allow access to their credit report by a specific person or for a specified period of time. The consumer may also request that the security freeze be completely removed.
     
  • How does a consumer rescind a security freeze? To temporarily lift a security freeze, the consumer must submit that request to the consumer credit reporting agency by either mail, telephone or electronic mail. The consumer must also provide proper identifying information. If a consumer wants to remove a security freeze from their credit report, the consumer must contact the consumer reporting agency by mail, telephone or electronic mail and request that the security freeze be removed. Consumers are required to provide the unique personal identification number or password previously provided by the consumer credit reporting agency. The consumer credit reporting agency must remove the security freeze within 3 business days after receiving a request for removal. After January 31, 2009 all credit reporting agencies must comply with such requests within 15 minutes after the consumer's request is received by the consumer reporting agency.
     
  • What recourse does a consumer have if a consumer credit reporting agency does not comply with a security freeze request and/or any of the specifications therein? If a consumer reporting agency violates a security freeze by releasing either a consumer's credit report or any information derived from that report without authorization, the consumer credit reporting agency must notify the consumer in writing within 5 business days after discovering or being notified of the violation. A consumer who has reason to believe that a consumer credit reporting agency has violated any Maryland laws governing consumer credit reporting agencies or consumer credit may file a complaint with the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, 500 North Calvert Street, Suite 402, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.

For more information on the security freeze, you can contact the following three major credit reporting agencies:

  • Trans Union Corporation - 1-800-916-8800
  • Experian Credit Information Services - 1-888-397-3742
  • Equifax Information Services - 1-800-685-1111