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During the last decade, 47 states and the District of Columbia have created laws allowing security freezes on consumer credit reports. If a consumer thinks he or she has been the victim of identity theft, a security freeze can help. A security freeze prevents credit reporting companies from releasing information without the consumer's consent. Any time a person uses a security freeze, there may be delay in approval for loans, insurance, rental applications, government services, investments, employment, utilities, and credit transactions. Freezes only apply to new account relationships and not existing accounts or services.
For consumers who live in states without security freeze laws (Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, and South Dakota), voluntary services are offered to identity theft victims by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Security freezes generally require a fee for freezing and 'thawing' your credit information ($10 or free for senior citizens in some states). It can be difficult to thaw or unfreeze your information, so be sure to get specifics from your credit bureau before you initiate a freeze. For more information, look up your state's identity theft laws or check with one of the major credit bureaus.