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Topics addressed on March 8, 2006:
Frozen credit file interferes with wedding plans
Dear Experian,My fiancé recently was a victim of credit card fraud and currently has a fraud protection alert on his credit, which is preventing us from being able to have his credit run. We are in the process of trying to get a loan for our wedding, and we need to take the fraud alert off of his credit. We don't have the FREEZE PIN that is requested to do this. How can we go about having the fraud alert removed without this PIN number? Our wedding is in eight weeks and we need to get moving.
You mention both a fraud alert and a file freeze. They are two different things. Because you were asked for a PIN, I suspect your fiancé has frozen his credit history. Credit file freezing is available only in certain states.
You cannot unfreeze the credit file without the PIN number. That would defeat the purpose of the frozen credit file. In order to unfreeze the credit file you will need to mail copies of identifying documentation so that a new PIN can be issued. Only then will you be able to unfreeze the credit file.
A credit freeze blocks all access to your credit history, but it does not prevent identity theft. In fact, freezing the credit file can help the identity thief continue to victimize your fiancé.
Savvy identity thieves now use file freezing to their advantage. When the identity thief applies for credit, the lender must notify them that they cannot access the credit history because it is frozen. The identity thief then leaves promising to unfreeze the file.
Armed with the knowledge that the credit file is frozen, the identity thief uses the stolen identity to commit other types of fraud, effectively masking the identity theft. As a result, they are able to continue to victimize you with no way for you to discover the crime.
If your fiancé has a security alert or fraud victim statement, no PIN is required to remove it. You simply must mail copies of identification documentation with a request to remove the statement. The fraud victim statement is an alert that informs creditors of the victimization and asks that the creditor call the victim before granting credit in their name.
The statement enables lenders to take additional measures to protect you, but because access to your credit history is not blocked, you still can get the credit you need in most instances. However, some lenders automatically decline an application that includes a fraud alert, particularly in instant credit situations or when there is no means to conduct a manual review. Ask your lender what its policy is before applying.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team