Credit Report Security Freeze Bill in Minnesota Legislature

Consumers Union (the publishers of Consumer Reports magazine) sent out the following to people on its Minnesota e-mailing list regarding a bill introduced in the Minnesota Legislature that would allow consumers to freeze their credit report file (if you want to send a letter on this to your representative be sure to click on the underlined link shown in red):

Minnesota, Tell Your Legislature to be Proactive 
in Preventing Identity Theft!

Each year, nearly ten million people fall victim to identity theft and then many spend months and hundreds of dollars cleaning up the mess. But there’s a common sense proposal that will thwart identity thieves before they can set up new accounts for credit or services in your name.

The Minnesota State Legislature could give you and all Minnesota consumers the right to place a "security freeze" on your consumer credit reporting files this year. SB 2002 would give you control over your own credit information, and let you decide whether new creditors can look at your credit history. If you say no, thieves can't use your credit record to open new accounts in your name.

A security freeze is a voluntary identity theft protection tool! You decide whether to use it. If you want someone in particular to see your consumer credit report or your credit score, you can open your information up with a PIN, and then lock it up again.

Tell your House member to support SB 2002, a security freeze bill that will give you more control over your consumer credit files.

Stop identity thieves in their tracks! You deserve greater control over your own financial information. With just a few pieces of information about you, thieves can start new credit accounts, cell phone services and much more using your good name--unless you have the right to "freeze" access to your credit report and credit score. With a "security freeze" only new accounts approved by you can be opened in your name! This takes a big incentive out of ID theft and gives you more control over the spread of your personal, financial data. Help us pass this reform in Minnesota now! [ * ]

The "security freeze" bill, SB 2002, has passed the Senate and now must pass the House to become law. A quick note from you tells these lawmakers that their own constituents want this right for a low or no fee.

Sincerely,
Minerva Novoa
Consumers Union
1535 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA  94103-2512
action@consumer.org

Incidentally the companion House bill is HF1943.

You can read the senate bill itself by going to the Minnesota Senate webpage and typing SF2002 in the "Get Bill" search box at the upper left corner or go to the Minnesota House webpage and typing in HF1943.

* The underlined link goes to convio.net a service company Consumers Union uses to make it convenient for people to contact a number of legislators with a single letter (that you can accept as written or modify) without having to look up all their separate e-mail addresses. I've used the service myself and it is legit.  Consumers Union also has a website www.FinancialPrivacyNow.org devoted to this issue at the national level. [Dick Lambert - RCL webmaster]

Security Freeze Bill Passes:

On May 22, 2006 Consumers Union sent us the following e-mail:

Thanks to your support, and I'm sure the support of folks in the Roseville Citizens League, I'm happy to report that SF 2002 has passed! 

http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S2002.4.html&session=ls84

This is the security freeze bill we have discussed previously.  It expanded beyond the version we initially talked about when it was limited to minors and ID theft victims.  The freeze is now open to all Minnesota residents.  It's free for ID theft victims, and $5 with each credit bureau to place the freeze on your consumer credit files.  What's this all mean?  It means that new accounts that many, if not all, creditors rely on can gain access to your credit files--which means identity thieves can't open new accounts in your name.  A small step toward combating identity theft, but indeed, a good one.

Thanks again for your support.  It's because of concerned citizens like you why these pieces of legislation grow legs and move.

Michelle Jun
Staff Attorney/Campaign Organizer
Consumers Union
1535 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
mjun@consumer.org
(415) 431-6747
(415) 431-0906 [fax]

For more information on Consumers Union's campaign for greater financial privacy protections, please visit www.FinancialPrivacyNow.org

This law Applies to all consumers.
Fees: No fees on ID theft victims who provide police report. Others pay $5 to place, remove, temporarily suspend, lift for specific creditor, or have PIN reissued.
Effective date: August 1, 2006
For more information on statute:
http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S2002.4.html&session=ls84

Click here for a fact sheet (with sample letters) in Microsoft Word format that Consumers Union has put together detailing the procedure to place a security freeze in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Attorney Generals Office has a webpage explaining the law as well as the links to all three credit reporting agency websites where their individual procedures for implementing a credit reporting freeze are listed.

There are also several Pioneer Press newspaper articles on how this works and how to place a freeze on your account:

5/31/06 Article about the problem and how this law works

10/23/06 Article on how the reporting bureaus make it hard to use new law for fighting identity theft

10/23/06 Procedures required by three agencies