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Freeze Your Identity to Stop ID Theft

It happens almost every day, third parties perform credit checks on unsuspecting individuals without their knowledge. Sometimes those checks are for legitimate purposes such as new credit card applications, but other times they're performed by criminals seeking to steal identities.

Redwood City, Calif.-based startup TrustedID thinks that it has the simple answer to stopping identity thieves from stealing your personal information.

The solution? Give consumers control over access to their credit reports and information.

As opposed to other solutions in the marketplace which enable users to monitor their credit after the fact, Scott Mitic, co-founder of TrustedID claims that his firm's IDfreeze solution enables users to proactively prevent identity theft.

There are two components to the TrustedID IDfreeze solution. Lender DoubleCheck requires that the credit agencies actually check with the recipient of the credit to make sure that the credit was in fact requested.

"We notify the credit bureaus to put an alert on your credit file and keep it there over the course of your membership," Mitic told internetnews.com. "This requires lenders to verify your identity before they do anything which could negatively affect your good standing."

The second component of the TrustedID solution set is a service called CreditLock. It locks a users credit report on all three (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) credit reporting agencies and does not enable anyone to check or issue credit on a users behalf without the users permission.

The CreditLock service is currently only available in 12 states which have legalized services like CreditLock that let you "freeze" your credit report; in 3 of these states (Illinois, Vermont, WA), you can freeze it only if you have already been a victim of identity theft. The other states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Texas.

According to Mitic, new federal legislation is expected by the end of the year that would make services like CreditLock available nationwide.

"CreditLock eliminates the risk of anyone getting new credit in your name," Mitic said. "If a lender can't get your credit report they're not going to issue you a credit card."

Mitic explained that other services currently in the market only provide monitoring services which isn't enough to actually solve the problem of ID theft.

"If we are going to solve the identity theft problem it can only happen in one way," Mitic said. "That is we go to the headwater of the problem, which from our perspective is the three credit bureaus, and lock it down and let the consumer decide how their data is shared."

Omar Ahmad the other co-founder of TrustedID said the credit bureaus have been less excited about this because they make money selling data.

"By putting notices on and locking down your data you basically are no longer a money revenue source for them," Ahmad told internetnews.com.

TrustedID isn't about to become a new potential vehicle by which consumer data is lost either. Ahmad is the ex-CIO at Napster which he notes nearly everyone was trying to hack at one time or another. The key to TrustedID is that it doesn't actually hold your credit bureau information.

"From a data standpoint, we actually have very little data," Ahmad explained. "I don't have your credit data, I don't know what it is and I don't frankly care. What I'm doing is getting enough information to uniquely identify you at each of the credit bureaus and then I put a lock on it."

The TrustedID IDfreeze service is free for the first 30 days after which it costs $7.05 a month.