Posted on Mon, Oct. 23, 2006
Originally published in the 10/23/06 issue of the Pioneer Press

How to freeze your credit

The process varies slightly between companies. Only one company, TransUnion, lets you complete the freeze entirely over the phone. All letters should be sent via certified mail.

Finding information on the companies' Web sites is difficult and often requires several steps. For easy links to each company's instructions, go to the attorney general's Web site at www.ag.state.mn.us and click on Your Legal Rights in the left column. Then click August 2006 Minnesota Identity Theft Freeze Law. The links will be at the bottom of this page.

TransUnion

Write: TransUnion, Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834

Include: Full name, address, Social Security number, and either a credit card number with expiration date to pay the $5 fee or a copy of proof that you have been a victim of identity theft (such as a Department of Motor Vehicles investigation report or a police report).

Call: 1-888-909-8872. Press 3 for a real person or a voice message instructing you to leave your name, phone number and Social Security number if there is no one available at that time. Someone should get back to you within three hours to ask for more personal information, such as your address. You can either leave a credit card number to pay the $5 fee or a fax proving that you've been a victim of identity theft.

Experian

Write: Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013

Include: Your full name; current address; previous addresses for the past two years; Social Security number; date of birth; one copy of a current utility bill, bank or insurance statement; one legible photocopy of a government-issued identification card; and either a check or money order for the $5 fee or a copy of proof you've been a victim of identity theft.

Call: 1-972-390-4172. This number gives you the mailing instructions (by pushing 1), or you can leave a voice message with your personal information and a credit card number (by pushing 2). Placing the freeze over the phone is only available if you're paying the $5 fee by credit card.

Equifax

Write: Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348

Include: Full name; address; Social Security number; date of birth; proof of current address (like a current utility bill or bank statement); and either payment by check or by credit card (with card number and expiration date) or a copy of proof you're a victim of identity theft.

Call: The only way to find the security freeze phone number is to order a hard copy of your credit report, and it will be printed on an insert that comes with the report.

For more information

Consumers Union runs www.financialprivacynow.org. The "learn more" link will take you to security freeze information.