Title 28, Chapter 52, Idaho Code
Credit Report Protection Act
If you are concerned about the risk of identity theft, Attorney General Wasden encourages you to consider placing a voluntary freeze on your credit reports. Freezing your credit report can substantially reduce the risk that identity thieves will open new credit accounts in your name. This is the most common form of identity theft.
Idaho’s credit freeze law requires credit reporting agencies to place a credit “freeze” on your credit report when you request it. The following FAQs explain the details, process, and effect for requesting a credit freeze. You can also read our Credit and Debt Manual for more information on credit related issues.
The Act allows you to place a “security freeze” on your credit report and prohibits a person from intentionally releasing your Social Security number to the general public.
Commonly referred to as a “credit freeze,” a security freeze, in most cases, prohibits a consumer reporting agency from giving your credit information to a third-party creditor. A security freeze is more effective than a fraud alert in preventing unauthorized persons from obtaining credit in your name.
A fraud alert is a special message on your credit report that notifies potential creditors that they need to verify your identity before extending credit in your name. Three types of fraud alerts are available: (1) a 90-day initial fraud alert; (2) a seven-year extended fraud alert; and (3) a one-year active duty military alert. A security freeze, on the other hand, remains in effect until you ask the consumer reporting agency to lift it.
The problem with fraud alerts is that a creditor is not required to contact you before extending credit in your name. Therefore, even with a fraud alert in place, identity thieves can still open new accounts and obtain new lines of credit in your name.
When you properly request a security freeze, consumer reporting agencies, also called credit reporting agencies, must freeze the information in your credit report. Under the law, a “consumer reporting agency” includes any person who, for fees, dues, or on a cooperative basis, assembles or evaluates information concerning a consumer's credit.
You may request that a consumer reporting agency place a security freeze on your credit report at any time and for any reason. Requesting a security freeze is particularly important whenever you believe that your personal or financial information has been disclosed to another without your permission. For example, if a business notifies you that it inadvertently released your credit card number to someone without your authorization, you should consider requesting a security freeze.
A freeze helps prevent identity thieves from obtaining credit in your name because most creditors will not extend credit without first reviewing the consumer's credit report. If the creditor is told that a credit report is frozen, it is less likely that the creditor will grant credit to a fraudster.
Placing a security freeze on your credit report does not affect your credit score. Despite having a security freeze in effect, you can obtain new credit and get your free annual credit report.
If you are a victim of identity theft, which means someone is using or has used your identity to obtain credit, you can obtain a security freeze without cost. However, you must provide a copy of your filed police report to the credit reporting agencies.
If you are not an identity theft victim and do not have a police report, you must pay a fee of up to $6.00 to each credit reporting agency from which you request a freeze.
To obtain a security freeze, you must submit a request to each of the three major consumer reporting agencies asking them to place a freeze on your credit report. This can be accomplished by phone, mail, or online. You can contact each of the credit reporting agencies at the phone numbers below for assistance:
Be prepared to provide your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and other personal information to properly place the credit freeze.
If you are an identity theft victim, you must provide the consumer reporting agency with a copy of your police report to place a credit freeze without paying a fee. If you are not a victim of identity theft and do not have a police report, you must pay a fee of up to $6.00 to each credit reporting agency from which you request a freeze.
The consumer reporting agency must place a security freeze on your credit report within three business days after receiving your request.
Within five business days after placing the security freeze, the consumer reporting agency must send you a written confirmation of the security freeze and provide you with a unique personal identification number or password that you can use to request removal of the freeze or to request a temporary lift of the freeze.
You must contact the consumer credit agency and request a new number or password. The consumer reporting agency may charge you up to $10.00 for this service.
A consumer reporting agency may tell creditors who request your credit report that a security freeze is in effect.
A creditor may treat your credit application as incomplete and deny you credit if the creditor is unable to access your credit report.
The law allows certain third parties to access your credit report while a security freeze is in effect. You should review Idaho Code § 28-52-105 for a complete description of all entities that can access your frozen credit report. Briefly, these third parties include:
If you want to lift the security freeze only temporarily to allow a specific creditor to access your credit report, you must contact the consumer reporting agency that the creditor uses and request that your credit report be unfrozen temporarily. When you contact the consumer reporting agency, you must provide the agency with the following information and fee:
Consumer reporting agencies are responsible for providing an address, telephone number, facsimile number, or email address that consumers can use to request a temporary lift of a security freeze. All agencies must provide a secure electronic method for consumers to use.
A consumer reporting agency has three business days from the date on which it receives your request to lift the freeze. If you electronically request a temporary lift, the consumer reporting agency has 15 minutes to lift the security freeze. However, you must submit your request between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., Mountain Time, if you want to take advantage of the 15-minute requirement.
You need to follow the same instructions as outlined for requesting a temporary lift, excluding the payment of a fee. The only difference is that you are requesting that the consumer reporting agency permanently lift the security freeze.
A consumer reporting agency can disregard the time requirements for lifting a security freeze if any of the following circumstances occur:
If a consumer reporting agency changes your name, date of birth, Social Security number, or your address, the agency must notify you of the change within 30 days by sending written notice to both your new and your former addresses.
A consumer reporting agency may make technical changes to the information in your credit report without notifying you of the changes. Examples of technical changes include the addition or subtraction of abbreviations to names and addresses and corrections of numbers or spelling errors.
The Act prohibits a person from intentionally communicating your Social Security number to the general public. In addition, the Act prohibits state government agencies from employing an inmate in a position that would allow the inmate access to your personal information.
If a credit reporting agency willfully violates the Credit Report Protection Act, you, as the damaged consumer, can sue the agency for actual damages of not more than $1,000 and for the cost of your reasonable attorney’s fees. Instead of damages, a court may award you punitive damages.
If a credit reporting agency negligently violates the Credit Report Protection Act, you can sue the agency for actual damages and for the cost of your reasonable attorney’s fees.
A consumer reporting agency can sue a person who falsely obtains a consumer’s credit report, who falsely requests a security freeze, who falsely requests a temporary lift, or who falsely requests removal of a freeze. The consumer reporting agency can collect the greater of $1,000 or actual damages.
The Attorney General has authority to enforce the Credit Report Protection Act and has exclusive authority to prosecute a credit reporting agency for violating the 15-minute time requirement for temporarily lifting a security freeze. In a lawsuit against a consumer reporting agency, the Attorney General can request a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for violations concerning a specific consumer. For violations that affect more than one consumer, the Attorney General may recover up to $100,000. In addition to civil penalties, the statute authorizes the Attorney General to seek injunctive relief against the consumer reporting agency to prevent future violations of the law.
If you believe that a person has violated the Credit Report Protection Act, you should consult with a private attorney about your legal rights and options. You can also file a consumer complaint with the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.
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