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Sean D. Reyes
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SB45 Makes Protecting Credit Easier for Utah

NEW LAW MAKES PROTECTING CREDIT EASIER FOR UTAHNS
Credit Freezes Now Free And Available Through Apps

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s office and Department of Commerce are alerting consumers to the benefits of a new law that went into effect May 8th. House Bill 45, sponsored by Rep. Jim Dunnigan and Sen. Todd Weiler, amended the Utah Consumer Credit Protection Act making it easier for Utahns to use credit report security freezes.

“This new law will allow consumers to freeze their credit without paying $10 per credit reporting company and another $10 to thaw,” said Rep. Dunningan. In addition to the removal of fees, the law allows for changes to be made using apps developed by the credit reporting companies as opposed to certified mail. “As the credit bureaus offer freezing and thawing via an app, they are required to honor the request within 15 minutes. This gives the consumer almost real time ability to protect their credit.”

Sen. Weiler spoke on the amendment stating:

As identity theft and fraud grows, we want consumers to know there are clear paths to protecting their credit when a security breach occurs.

A credit report security freeze may be useful for people whose personal information (such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers) has been compromised by a data breach. According to Deputy Attorney General David Sonnenreich,

HB 45 improved the Utah Consumer Credit Protection Act, making it easier for consumers to protect themselves from becoming victims of credit-based identity theft, such as fake credit card accounts being opened in their name.

Francine A. Giani, Executive Director for the Department of Commerce also weighed in:

Our consumer information is more vulnerable than ever to data breaches and hackers, therefore it is imperative that consumers’ have more control over who has access to their credit identity. The Department of Commerce is grateful for the hard work by the Attorney General’s office and legislative sponsors in passing these laws which put the power back in consumers’ hands when it comes to their credit information.

Deputy Sonnenreich cautioned that “freezes are not for everyone and they don’t prevent all forms of identity theft.” Credit freezes only stop companies that have not previously done business with a consumer from getting a credit report about the consumer. They do not actually stop companies from issuing new credit in a consumer’s name. Also, freezes do not stop thieves from using real credit information, such as using a consumer’s existing credit card number to order merchandise online.

When placing a credit report security freeze, a consumer must place a separate freeze with each credit reporting company. Every time a consumer wants to allow new businesses to check the consumer’s credit, they must make sure to remove temporarily or lift the freeze with each company. A consumer must remember lenders are not the only ones who use credit scores and reports. Many companies use credit reports to make offers or give discounts, including insurance companies, landlords, and utilities.  If a consumer fails to lift a credit freeze, those companies may charge higher rates or turn down applications. 

Consumers who are concerned about identity theft should discuss the pros and cons of credit report security freezes with their financial advisors. Consumers should also consider other options such as placing a “fraud alert.” Also, consumers should always check their credit accounts and free credit reports regularly for signs of suspicious or unauthorized activity. 

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NOTES:

  1. You can find a copy of the law regarding this change here:   https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HB0045.html.
  2. Information about fraud alerts can be found here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert.
  3. For information about getting free copies of your credit reports, go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports.

 

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