Credit Freezes Debated at GAC
WASHINGTON - A representative from the Consumer Data Industry Association and a lobbyist who works with the Delaware Credit Union League debated some of the finer points of so-called credit freezes, procedures by which consumers can prevent credit reporting agencies from selling their credit reports for opening new credit applications. Opening fraudulent credit card and other loan accounts is a key part of identity theft. From the outset, each side of the discussion admitted that credit freeze laws have swept the country, that they appear to be here to stay and that much of the remaining discussion had to do with the details, particularly over whether the credit reporting agencies need to be able to "unfreeze" a consumer's credit report in as little as 15 minutes. "I cannot state firmly enough how opposed we are to these 15-minute provisions," said Chantele Mack, a manager with the Consumer Data Industry Association. She pointed out that while providing credit reports is a technology which has been developed for decades, the freezing and unfreezing of accounts remains largely a manual function. Lobbyist and organizer George Fitzgerald countered that quick unfreezing of accounts both made freezing them more acceptable to consumers and helped encourage merchants to support laws authorizing them. "People should not make the mistake of assuming I am against credit reporting," Fitzgerald said. "Not at all, as a former insurance executive I understand the importance of credit reporting, but we have to make credit reporting more responsive to consumer concerns about safety." For her part, Mack reminded the meeting that her organization's members make money by selling credit reports and that as soon as they could freeze and unfreeze accounts easily, they would do so. "It's in our best interest to try to make our processes as easy to use as possible, but when it comes to credit freezing we just aren't yet where we need to be," she said.