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Why it costs money to freeze your credit score in Utah, but not some other states

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(KUTV) Four members of Ken Isaac's immediate family, along with 143 million other Americans, potentially had their information compromised in the Equifax breach. Ken wanted to take immediate action.

“I want all the tools I can use,” he said. “One of the tools is a credit freeze.”

A credit freeze is a tool lets a consumer restrict access to his or her credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts. Most creditors need to see a credit report before they approve a new account. If they can’t see the file, they may not extend the credit, according to the FTC.

But when Isaac turned to the websites for our nation’s three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, all said he'd have to pay to freeze his credit.

“For me to do all three credit reports, all three bureaus, it'd be $30,” he said.

Worse, if Isaac ever wanted to get a new credit card, buy a car, or get a new home, he'd have to pay again, this time to unfreeze it.

Isaac takes exception to the fact that the credit bureaus gathered his personal information without his permission, one of them failed to protect it, and now all will force him to pay to keep his information secure.

In 2006, the Utah legislature made it legal for credit reporting agencies to charge what they call a “reasonable fee” when a Utah consumer wants to freeze and unfreeze his or her credit.

It's not like that in all states. Seven states don't allow their citizens to be charged for placing a credit freeze. In four of those, it's free to freeze and thaw credit as many times as the citizen wishes.

Utah state Senator Todd Wyler it's “infuriating” that credit bureaus charge consumers to protect their own identities, especially in liught of the Equifax breach.

“It's crazy to think your zip codes going to dictate what you're being charged,” he said.

Wyler says he's now looking into changing Utah law and plans to run a bill in the 2018 legislative session.

“I would like to move Utah towards those other states where there's no fee to our consumers for freezing and unfreezing,” he said.

Get Gephardt reached out to all three of our nation’s credit bureaus to ask about the fees. Neither Equifax nor Transunion responded.

Experian did, writing in a statement, “Credit freeze requirements are enacted separately by laws in each state. At the time of enactment, each state law specified the fees required to place and subsequently lift a freeze along with other requirements, such as the identification processes required to do so.

“The fees for implementing a freeze are established by state laws to offset the direct costs associated with placing, lifting and restoring a credit freeze. The fees apply only if you are placing a freeze as a proactive measure and are not a [confirmed] fraud victim.”

Equifax has stopped charging consumers to place a credit freeze, for now. After public outrage, Equifax decided they'd give consumers until November 21, 2017 to freeze their credit for free. Consumers will still have to pay to freeze your credit with the other two credit bureaus.

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