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Awareness of Security Freeze Legislation and Use of Security Freezes by Consumers Age 18+

All but eleven states have enacted Security Freeze laws designed to protect consumers from identity theft. These laws give consumers the right to block their credit report from the view of others. This April-May 2007 AARP telephone survey explores the awareness of security freezes and the use of such freezes among consumers aged 18 and over living in California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, and North Carolina. In these selected states, the security freeze laws have been in effect for at least one year and they allow all consumers to place a security freeze on their credit report.

Respondents across all states show high concern about identity theft, yet awareness of security freeze laws is extremely low. The cost and complexity of placing and thawing freezes are seen as significant barriers to the use of this protection against identity theft.

In a separate AARP Public Policy Institute Data Digest, Neal Walters examines the survey responses of those age 50 and over and finds that few older consumers recognize the term “security freeze,” that most regard the procedures and cost of placing a freeze forbidding, and more than half (57%) do not know where to turn for security freeze information.

Of all those surveyed, only 28 percent say they have heard that National Credit Bureaus are required to provide consumers the opportunity to withhold credit information from others, and less than 1 percent indicate they currently have a security freeze placed on their personal credit files.

Alan Newman Research conducted this telephone survey for AARP between April 1 and May 6, 2007, interviewing at least 1200 in each of the selected states, for a total of 8,412 completed surveys. Jennifer Sauer of AARP Knowledge Management and Neal Walters of AARP Public Policy Institute wrote the report. For more information contact Jennifer Sauer at 202-434-6207.

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