75-63.  Security freeze.

(a)        A consumer may place a security freeze on the consumer's credit report by making a request to a consumer reporting agency in accordance with this subsection. A security freeze shall prohibit, subject to exceptions in subsection (l) of this section, the consumer reporting agency from releasing the consumer's credit report or any information from it without the express authorization of the consumer. When a security freeze is in place, a consumer reporting agency may not release the consumer's credit report or information to a third party without prior express authorization from the consumer. This subsection does not prevent a consumer reporting agency from advising a third party that a security freeze is in effect with respect to the consumer's credit report, provided that the consumer reporting agency does not state or otherwise imply to the third party that the consumer's security freeze reflects a negative credit score, history, report, or rating. A consumer reporting agency shall place a security freeze on a consumer's credit report if the consumer requests a security freeze by any of the following methods:

(1)        First-class mail.

(2)        Telephone call.

(3)        Secure Web site or secure electronic mail connection.

(a1)      A nationwide consumer reporting agency, as defined in section 603(p) [15 U.S.C. 1681a(p)] of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, et seq., that receives a request from a consumer residing in this State to place a security freeze on the consumer's file, shall provide a notice communicating to the consumer that the freeze is only placed with the consumer reporting agency to which the consumer directed the request. The notice shall provide to the consumer the Web site, postal address, and telephone number of the other nationwide consumer reporting agencies and of the North Carolina Attorney General's Office and shall inform the consumer that he or she may use this information to contact other nationwide consumer reporting agencies to make security freeze requests and obtain information on combating identity theft. No part of the notice to the consumer shall be used to make a solicitation for other goods and services.

(b)        A consumer reporting agency shall place a security freeze on a consumer's credit report no later than three business days after receiving a written request from the consumer by mail. A consumer reporting agency that receives such a request electronically or by telephone shall comply with the request within 24 hours of receiving the request.

(c)        The consumer reporting agency shall send a written confirmation of the security freeze to the consumer within three business days of placing the freeze and at the same time shall provide the consumer with a unique personal identification number or password, other than the consumer's social security number, to be used by the consumer when providing authorization for the release of the consumer's credit report for a specific period of time, or to a specific party, or for permanently lifting the freeze.

(d)       If the consumer wishes to allow the consumer's credit report to be accessed for a specific period of time or by a specific party while a freeze is in place, the consumer shall contact the consumer reporting agency by mail, phone, or electronically, request that the freeze be lifted or lifted with respect to a specific party, and provide all of the following:

(1)        Proper identification.

(2)        The unique personal identification number or password provided by the consumer reporting agency pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

(3)        The proper information regarding the third party who is authorized to receive the consumer credit report or the time period for which the report shall be available to users of the credit report.

(e)        Repealed by Session Laws 2009-355, s. 1, effective October 1, 2009.

(f)        A consumer reporting agency that receives a request by mail from a consumer to lift a freeze on a credit report pursuant to subsection (d) of this section shall comply with the request no later than three business days after receiving the request. A consumer reporting agency that receives such a request electronically or by telephone shall comply with the request within 15 minutes of receiving the request.

(g)        A consumer reporting agency shall remove, temporarily lift, or lift with respect to a specific third party a freeze placed on a consumer's credit report only in the following cases:

(1)        Upon the consumer's request, pursuant to subsections (d) or (j) of this section.

(2)        If the consumer's credit report was frozen due to a material misrepresentation of fact by the consumer. If a consumer reporting agency intends to remove a freeze upon a consumer's credit report pursuant to this subdivision, the consumer reporting agency shall notify the consumer in writing prior to removing the freeze on the consumer's credit report.

(g1)      A consumer reporting agency need not meet the time requirements provided in this section, only for such time as the occurrences prevent compliance, if any of the following occurrences apply:

(1)        The consumer fails to meet the requirements of subsection (d) or (j) of this section.

(2)        The consumer reporting agency's ability to remove, place, temporarily lift, or lift with respect to a specific party the security freeze is prevented by any of the following:

a.         An act of God, including fire, earthquakes, hurricanes, storms, or similar natural disaster or phenomena.

b.         Unauthorized or illegal acts by a third party, including terrorism, sabotage, riot, vandalism, labor strikes or disputes disrupting operations, or similar occurrences.

c.         Operational interruption, including electrical failure, unanticipated delay in equipment or replacement part delivery, computer hardware or software failures inhibiting response time, or similar disruption.

d.         Governmental action, including emergency orders or regulations, judicial or law enforcement action, or similar directives.

e.         Regularly scheduled maintenance, during other than normal business hours, of, or updates to, the consumer reporting agency's systems.

f.          Commercially reasonable maintenance of, or repair to, the consumer reporting agency's systems that is unexpected or unscheduled.

g.         Receipt of a request outside of normal business hours.

(h)        If a third party requests access to a consumer credit report on which a security freeze is in effect and this request is in connection with an application for credit or any other use and the consumer does not allow the consumer's credit report to be accessed for that specific period of time, the third party may treat the application as incomplete.

(i)         If a consumer requests a security freeze pursuant to this section, the consumer reporting agency shall disclose to the consumer the process of placing and temporarily lifting a security freeze and the process for allowing access to information from the consumer's credit report for a specific period of time or to a specific third party while the security freeze is in place.

(j)         A security freeze shall remain in place until the consumer requests that the security freeze be temporarily lifted for a specific period of time or to a specific third party or removed. A consumer reporting agency shall remove a security freeze within 15 minutes of receiving an electronic request for removal from the consumer or within three business days of receiving a written or telephonic request for removal from the consumer, who provides all of the following:

(1)        Proper identification.

(2)        The unique personal identification number or password provided by the consumer reporting agency pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

(k)        A consumer reporting agency shall require proper identification of the person making a request to place or remove a security freeze.

(l)         The provisions of this section do not apply to the use of a consumer credit report by any of the following:

(1)        A person, or the person's subsidiary, affiliate, agent, subcontractor, or assignee with whom the consumer has, or prior to assignment had, an account, contract, or debtor-creditor relationship for the purposes of reviewing the active account or collecting the financial obligation owing for the account, contract, or debt.

(2)        A subsidiary, affiliate, agent, assignee, or prospective assignee of a person to whom access has been granted under subsection (d) of this section for purposes of facilitating the extension of credit or other permissible use.

(3)        Any person acting pursuant to a court order, warrant, or subpoena.

(4)        A state or local agency, or its agents or assigns, which administers a program for establishing and enforcing child support obligations.

(5)        A state or local agency, or its agents or assigns, acting to investigate fraud, including Medicaid fraud, or acting to investigate or collect delinquent taxes or assessments, including interest and penalties, unpaid court orders, or to fulfill any of its other statutory responsibilities.

(6)        A federal, state, or local governmental entity, including law enforcement agency, court, or their agent or assigns.

(7)        A person for the purposes of prescreening as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, et seq.

(8)        Any person for the sole purpose of providing for a credit file monitoring subscription service to which the consumer has subscribed.

(9)        A consumer reporting agency for the purpose of providing a consumer with a copy of the consumer's credit report upon the consumer's request.

(10)      Any depository financial institution for checking, savings, and investment accounts.

(11)      Any property and casualty insurance company for use in setting or adjusting a rate, adjusting a claim, or underwriting for property and casualty insurance purposes.

(12)      A person for the purpose of furnishing or using credit reports for employment purposes pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 1681b(b) or tenant screening pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 1681b(a)(3)(F).

(13)      A person for the purpose of criminal background record information.

(m)       If a security freeze is in place, a consumer reporting agency shall not change any of the following official information in a credit report without sending a written confirmation of the change to the consumer within 30 days of the change being posted to the consumer's file: name, date of birth, social security number, and address. Written confirmation is not required for technical modifications of a consumer's official information, including name and street abbreviations, complete spellings, or transposition of numbers or letters. In the case of an address change, the written confirmation shall be sent to both the new address and the former address.

(n)        The following persons are not required to place in a credit report a security freeze pursuant to this section provided, however, that any person that is not required to place a security freeze on a credit report under the provisions of subdivision (3) of this subsection shall be subject to any security freeze placed on a credit report by another consumer reporting agency from which it obtains information:

(1)        A check services or fraud prevention services company, which reports on incidents of fraud or issues authorizations for the purpose of approving or processing negotiable instruments, electronic fund transfers, or similar methods of payment.

(2)        A deposit account information service company, which issues reports regarding account closures due to fraud, substantial overdrafts, ATM abuse, or other similar negative information regarding a consumer to inquiring banks or other financial institutions for use only in reviewing a consumer request for a deposit account at the inquiring bank or financial institution.

(3)        A consumer reporting agency that does all of the following:

a.         Acts only to resell credit information by assembling and merging information contained in a database of one or more credit reporting agencies.

b.         Does not maintain a permanent database of credit information from which new credit reports are produced.

(o)        A consumer reporting agency shall not charge a fee to put a security freeze in place, remove a freeze, or lift a freeze pursuant to subsection (d) or (j) of this section, provided that any such request is made electronically. If a request to put a security freeze in place is made by telephone or by mail, a consumer reporting agency may charge a fee to a consumer not to exceed three dollars ($3.00), except that a consumer reporting agency may not charge any fee to a consumer over the age of 62, to a victim of identity theft who has submitted a copy of a valid investigative or incident report or complaint with a law enforcement agency about the unlawful use of the victim's identifying information by another person, or to the victim's spouse. A consumer reporting agency shall not charge an additional fee to a consumer who requests to temporarily lift for a specific period of time or to a specific third party, reinstate, or remove a security freeze. A consumer reporting agency shall not charge a consumer for a onetime reissue of a replacement personal identification number. A consumer reporting agency may charge a fee not to exceed three dollars ($3.00) to provide any subsequent replacement personal identification number.

(o1)      A parent or guardian of a minor residing in this State may, upon appropriate proof of identity and proof of their relationship to the minor, inquire of a nationwide consumer reporting agency, as defined in section 603(p) [15 U.S.C. 1681a(p)] of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, et seq., as to the existence of a credit report for the minor of the parent or guardian. If a credit report for the minor exists, the nationwide consumer reporting agency shall make reasonable efforts to prevent providing a credit report on the minor until the minor reaches the age of majority. If a credit report for the minor does not exist, the nationwide consumer reporting agency has no obligation to create one.

(p)        At any time that a consumer is required to receive a summary of rights required under section 609 of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, the following notice shall be included:

"North Carolina Consumers Have the Right to Obtain a Security Freeze.

You have a right to place a "security freeze" on your credit report pursuant to North Carolina law. The security freeze will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing any information in your credit report without your express authorization. A security freeze can be requested in writing by first-class mail, by telephone, or electronically. You also may request a freeze by visiting the following Web site: [URL] or calling the following telephone number: [NUMBER].

The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. However, you should be aware that using a security freeze to take control over who gains access to the personal and financial information in your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application you make regarding new loans, credit, mortgage, insurance, rental housing, employment, investment, license, cellular phone, utilities, digital signature, Internet credit card transactions, or other services, including an extension of credit at point of sale.

The freeze will be placed within three business days if you request it by mail, or within 24 hours if you request it by telephone or electronically. When you place a security freeze on your credit report, within three business days, you will be sent a personal identification number or a password to use when you want to remove the security freeze, temporarily lift it, or lift it with respect to a particular third party.

A freeze does not apply when you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control, or similar activities.

You should plan ahead and lift a freeze if you are actively seeking credit or services as a security freeze may slow your applications, as mentioned above.

You can remove a freeze, temporarily lift a freeze, or lift a freeze with respect to a particular third party by contacting the consumer reporting agency and providing all of the following:

(1)        Your personal identification number or password,

(2)        Proper identification to verify your identity, and

(3)        Proper information regarding the period of time you want your report available to users of the credit report, or the third party with respect to which you want to lift the freeze.

A consumer reporting agency that receives a request from you to temporarily lift a freeze or to lift a freeze with respect to a particular third party on a credit report shall comply with the request no later than three business days after receiving the request by mail and no later than 15 minutes after receiving a request by telephone or electronically. A consumer reporting agency may charge you up to three dollars ($3.00) to institute a freeze if your request is made by telephone or by mail. A consumer reporting agency may not charge you any amount to freeze, remove a freeze, temporarily lift a freeze, or lift a freeze with respect to a particular third party, if any of the following are true:

(1)        Your request is made electronically.

(2)        You are over the age of 62.

(3)        You are the victim of identity theft and have submitted a copy of a valid investigative or incident report or complaint with a law enforcement agency about the unlawful use of your identifying information by another person, or you are the spouse of such a person.

You have a right to bring a civil action against someone who violates your rights under the credit reporting laws. The action can be brought against a consumer reporting agency or a user of your credit report."

(q)        A violation of this section is a violation of G.S. 75-1.1.  (2005-414, s. 1; 2006-158, s. 1; 2009-355, s. 1; 2009-550, s. 5.)