Students should utilize new credit bill

By By Emily Rodriguez-Vargas

By Emily Rodriguez-Vargas

One of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States, identity theft, has finally received the attention it needs in Utah.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. This multi-faceted crime is no modest theft. One name and Social Security number can be used to collect welfare, receive medical benefits, open new bank accounts and even be charged for a crime.

The numbers of this particular felony will hopefully decrease in the future with a new law that provides the possibility to freeze one’s credit files if a suspicion of identity theft arises.

The Consumer Credit Protection Act was approved by the Utah State Legislature and announced Sept. 10. The bill has been on hold since 2006, giving time for businesses and credit bureaus to prepare for this change and to reprogram their software. Utah is the first in the nation to see this 15-minute credit freeze go into effect.

If faced with possible identity theft, by immediately contacting each of the three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and giving your full name, date of birth and Social Security number, a freeze can be set on your account for a fee of $10. This fee might be waived if you are already a victim of identity theft and have a valid police report to prove it.

The bureaus will set up a new account for you in the meantime, along with a new PIN to remove the freeze temporarily or permanently whenever you choose. A thief attempting to get a credit card in your name would then be stopped immediately as the credit card company will be unable to access your credit report for approval.

“Utah’s new credit freeze law stops identity thieves cold and quick,” said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in a Sept. 10 press release. “Consumers can freeze and thaw their credit in 15 minutes.”

Shurtleff has provided a Web site, the Identity Theft Reporting Information System, which will help Utahns through the process of reporting identity theft, resolving the problem and preventing the crime. Additional resources from ITRIS can be found online at www.idtheft.utah.gov/pn/index.htm.

Although some cases of identity theft could still continue despite freezing credit files, it is beneficial to use all of the resources available for prevention. Some students are just starting to use credit, and having critical credit damage this early in life is a major problem.

The state has provided the necessary credit freeze law to back us up. However, not everyone knows about it.

More awareness programs for this crime could prevent the financial and emotional suffering involved with identity theft. Take action right away so Utah will not only be the state with the best law for protecting identities, but also the state with the lowest rate of identity theft.

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Emily Rodriguez-Vargas