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In the past, I activated a credit block (freeze) on all major credit bureaus and from reading information, this should prevent anyone from being able to report on my credit or gain access to it. However, I got a notice that someone had hit my credit recently. I couldn't find information on how this could even occur with a block, as from what I understood, this was impossible.

How can I terminate this entire credit process forever - meaning there's no possible way I could ever be a victim of ID theft, any type of credit related theft, or credit notifications of any kind? Outside of terminating my SSN, which I don't think is possible as long as I'm a US citizen, how can this be done?

Another way of asking this would be: is there a way to not exist in the credit system at all? Like if a person is not on Twitter, they don't exist in Twitter's system.

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    When you say someone hit your credit recently, what do you mean? Someone looked at your score? or someone tried to open a new line of credit in your name? – Bishop May 15 '15 at 14:28
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    Note that blocking credit checks will not prevent all types of identity theft--only those that require credit checks. Even then I'm not sure. Having a credit rating and being susceptible to identity theft are not the same thing. – farnsy May 15 '15 at 16:05
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    @user541852587, actually that data is not yours legally. It is the property of the credit bureau. It wasn't until recently that this information was even available for free to the individual (even if it's only once per year.) Having no/poor credit will preclude you from getting any good job, so don't forget about that too. – Mr. Mascaro May 15 '15 at 17:57
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    Note that by doing this you potentially create a lot of future problems and hardships for yourself and still remain almost exactly as susceptible to identity theft. – Jason C May 15 '15 at 19:05
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    Apply for a new identity on the grounds that your former identity has been compromised and never ever apply for credit anymore (e.g. use only prepaid credit cards). – Count Iblis May 15 '15 at 19:22
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When you have a credit freeze, or security freeze, in place with the credit bureaus, this restricts access to your credit report. However, it does not completely prevent all access. Some situations where your credit information is still available, even with a security freeze in place are:

  1. Your existing creditors (and debt collectors acting on their behalf) still have access to your report.

  2. Government agencies can get the report if they have a court order, subpoena, or search warrant.

  3. Limited information is still available to potential creditors for "pre-screened" offers. When a company obtains information about you this way (which is normally done in large groups of people), it appears as an inquiry on your credit report. This is most likely what has happened to you.

The third one is confusing. You would think that a security freeze would prevent this, but no. In order to prevent pre-screened offer companies from obtaining any information about you, you need to opt-out separately, which you can do online at OptOutPrescreen.com*.

To answer the second part of your question, I'm not aware of a way to erase your credit report completely. When you take out a loan, one of the things you agree to is the creditor's right to add to your credit report. However, closed accounts drop off your credit report after 10 years, so if you wait long enough you'll have an empty report.

More information from the FTC:


* Note: When you opt out of the prescreen offers online, the opting out is only valid for 5 years (for your convenience, of course). If you want to make it permanent, opt out online, then fill out a "Permanent Opt-Out Election" form, and mail it in.

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    "for your convenience, of course" ... humm :) – Dheer May 16 '15 at 4:55
  • so what happens if you automatically send in applications for all these pre-screened offers and then they go to try to check your credit report? – Michael May 10 '16 at 23:48
  • @Michael a lot of hard pulls on your report. Score drops temporarily. I use to think that everything that is good for a consumer does not have to be agressively pushed onto them. Therefore every consumer good that is being agressively pushed onto me is not good and should be shunned immediately. – Mindwin Jun 19 '17 at 15:12
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I understand being concerned about identity theft. But getting your credit files locked up or erased will not solve the problem, and it creates other problems.

People have been claiming to be someone else to take advantage of the other person's good reputation, connections, inheritance, etc for thousands of years. At least since Jacob and Esau. "Identity theft" is just a fancy new name for "forgery" and "impersonation".

While a credit report is one way that a criminal could get information about you, it's not the only way. He could hack into your bank's computers. He could call your employer pretending to be a policeman investigating fraud and ask a bunch of questions. He could take a check you wrote to him and copy the account numbers off of it. He could simply get your name and address out of the phone book. Etc etc.

Not having an accessible credit report means, I think, that you would have practically zero chance of getting any sort of loan. I suppose if you never want to borrow money, this could be acceptable. It can also make it difficult to rent an apartment -- landlords often do credit checks to see if a tenant is likely to pay the rent -- or to get a job -- employers sometimes do credit checks to see if a prospective employee is reliable.

You may think that it sucks that all these people demand that you have a credit file for them to be willing to work with you. If so, you can certainly try to campaign to change that. But good luck with that. In the meantime, you're rather stuck.

BTW One could debate the "freedom" question endlessly. Does "freedom" mean that you should have absolute control over what other people say about you? Isn't that taking away from their freedom? If Bob takes out a loan and then skips town and never pays it back, is it really an assault on Bob's freedom for the person he borrowed the money from to tell another lender that Bob may not be a good person to loan money to?

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    +1 for Bible reference. Just curious though, how do you think people who can't get access to credit (like non-Americans who move here) rent? – user541852587 May 15 '15 at 22:02
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    @user541852587 with a lot of difficulties, with absurd deposits, and with references from employer. I personally had an issue with exactly that - the employer's credit report came up bad for whatever reason, and I had problems renting even though I was willing to pay the deposit. – littleadv May 16 '15 at 1:52
  • @user541852587 Ditto littleadv. Depends on the landlord. Some don't do credit checks. I'd guess most understand that if you're a young person getting your first apartment, or an immigrant, that they have to use different standards. In the "young person" case, some ask for a parent to co-sign the rental agreement, for example. It's like the classic problem of "how do I get experience if no one will hire me because I have no experience?" -- "how do I establish credit if no one will loan to me because I have no credit history?". – Jay May 18 '15 at 13:38
  • This part of the answer deserves to be repeated: most identity theft has nothing to do with credit reports. There are easier ways for fraudsters to get the information they need to impersonate you than getting it from the credit bureaus. If you are trying to get out of the credit reporting system because you think that will insulate you from identity theft, you're barking up the wrong tree. – Nobody Jun 20 '17 at 11:43
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This has nothing to do with your citizenship. You agree to the reporting as part of your agreements to use services of various providers - banks, credit cards, landlords, utilities, cable companies, phone companies, essentially anyone you may end up owing money to who you sign a contract with has a clause in the contract allowing them to report and check your credit history.

So just don't use these.

8

There are many of us who would like to extract ourselves from this system. And you may be content to avoid all debt, and thus have no need or desire to participate in the system. But the system compels your participation. Depending upon your ultimate goal, you might choose to employ different strategies to address each aspect of the system.

Here are several aspects to the credit system,

  • Creditors reporting information into your credit history

  • Public records included into your credit history

  • Lenders pulling your credit report

  • Fraudulent usage of your credit profile

  • Lack of willpower to resist offers, barrier to reinforce your decision

Let us consider each of these in turn, and examine strategies to prevent fraud or misuse, and to mitigate the effects, or the exposure from each.

  • Can you avoid or prevent creditors reporting information to your credit file?

No.

Although, an appropriate quote from Shakespeare, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" is relevant.

Creditors have the power to report negative information to your credit history to any or all of the credit bureaus, although they are not compelled to report any positive events. A debt sent to collections, or written off as uncollectable could (would?) appear on your credit history. And medical debt sent to collections would appear on your credit history, and this often happens when insurance companies delay payment. Erroneous entries can be removed by the dispute process, but that costs you time, and effort (a cost you are trying to avoid).

Note that you can declare Bankruptcy (Ch7 or Ch11), and the creditors will avoid reporting information as that could be construed as an attempt to collect a debt and a violation of Federal BK law.

  • Can you avoid public records being added to your credit history?

No.

A lien can be placed upon your property by a licensed contractor, for example, a plumber or an electrician.

A Foreclosure action would be reported against you, unless you have declared BK, and you are no longer responsible for the debt. A Short Sale would also be treated in a similar way.

A debt sent to collections would appear (see above).

You can be sued for collection of debts, and a judgement against you would appear on your credit history. Should you injure or damage someone (tort), and they sue you and gain judgement against your, then the public record of the judgement, or lien would appear on your credit history.

  • Can you avoid Lenders pulling your credit report, and thus recording an Inquiry against your credit history?

Yes (mostly)

As others have mentioned, you can opt out of prescreen offers. But these offers can be ignored, and really don't affect your credit report (they are a "soft" pull, and thus don't ding your credit score). And since you don't care about your credit history, they are basically irrelevant. And if you have frozen your credit, nobody can use the existence of the prescreen offer to apply for credit anyway.

You can avoid applying for any credit. And you can have your credit file frozen at each of the three credit bureaus. Having your credit file frozen will prevent others from applying for and fraudulently obtaining credit against your credit file. And a frozen credit file will also delay any application you might make, and thus help reinforce your willpower, should you be tempted.

  • Can you prevent fraudulent use of your credit history?

Yes (mostly).

You can freeze your credit at all three credit bureaus, which would prevent many avenues for fraudulent usage of your name and credit history to apply for credit. This would prevent many uses of your name and credit. But there are ways that fraudulent usage of your name/identity could still creep into your credit history.

And since any system can be hacked, given sufficient time and resources, it might even be possible for a nefarious actor to either obtain a copy of your credit history or even guess the password to un-freeze your credit file. Choose a strong password.

But can someone obtain your SSN, and obtain (or forge) your ID, and then (mis)use that information to lease an apartment, or claim to be you, and have some item appear on your credit score? Yes, possible, but much less likely.

  • Can you prevent yourself from using your own credit? And create a barrier to reinforce your decision to not use credit?

Yes (partly).

Suppose in a rational moment you realize you have little willpower. And you need help to prevent using credit and thus falling into expensive debt. You can choose a very complex password for freezing your account, and then shred the copy of that password (or place it in trust with your attorney or trusted entity). Then you would be prevented from un-freezing your credit file until you remember the password (or you met some condition you placed with your attorney or trusted entity).


And now for something drastic.

  • Can you prevent use of your credit file?

No, but you can (ab)use the system to prevent both yourself and others from effectively using the credit system, to either obtain credit in your name, or use your credit history.

  • Eliminate all debt.

  • Cancel all credit cards.

  • Payoff all loans.

You now have a thin credit file. And a lower credit score. Next, destroy your credit score using the "Nuclear" option to file BK (Ch7 or Ch13). Since you have eliminated debt, you have nothing to repay creditors. Your credit score drops about 200 points. Since you have no positive tradelines, your credit score will stay low. Your credit score will be very low, and those who might use your credit file fraudulently would have trouble obtaining credit in your name (and you will as well).

6

There is only one way to be impervious to any and all identity theft and that's to not have an identity. Eliminating ways of identifying yourself doesn't eliminate the fact that you exist. Identity theft is older than the credit system.

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I'm inclined to think the answer is never take out any debt. If it is obvious you go way out of your way to avoid debt than any debt in your name must be invalid.

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    Let me put it this way: suppose you make $250 an hour, someone commits fraud on your ID for $10,000 and even with your ID theft insurance, you still lose 50 hours in working with the insurance, attorneys and banks. How much money did you lose? Also, consider that the nature of paying for ID theft insurance is absurd when you consider how much money banks make from debt. Unfortunately, I wish you were right and it was obvious that a person was anti-debt, therefore couldn't be the person. It doesn't work that way though. – user541852587 May 15 '15 at 17:26
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    Well if you're completely anti-debt you don't care what the banks think of your credit rating so it probably costs a lot less time than that to tell them "It's not my debt as I use no credit, and unless you're willing to bring a court case, don't contact me again." – Joshua May 15 '15 at 22:39
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    @user541852587: How much money did you lose? Pocket change for someone making approximately half a million per year, so why let it bother you? – Mason Wheeler May 16 '15 at 10:31
  • @MasonWheeler: Since the cost in time applies to everyone in equal proportion no matter how much you make, you comment appears absurd. Or did you mean to suggest that someone in great financial circumstances would be better off to just eat the theft? But not dealing with it makes it likely the same criminal will repeat for a larger amount. – Ben Voigt Mar 17 at 17:34

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