Credit freezes are now free!

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A new law recently took effect allowing consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit with the three main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The push for this changed started in 2017 with the the massive data breach at Equifax, which exposed the personal information of more than 145 million consumers to hackers.

What is a credit freeze? When a consumer “freezes” their credit, they have essentially locked their credit. No one (not a person, bank, car dealership, etc.) can access a consumer’s credit while frozen. This means new credit accounts cannot be opened, and is the surest way (not a 100% guarantee) to prevent fraud. Freezes can become problematic when a consumer needs to apply for credit as one has to go through the process of unfreezing their credit before applying.

The change was put in place by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act signed into law earlier this year. Before the change, every state had their own rules about credit freezes. It could cost as much as $10 to freeze (and throw on another $10 to lift a freeze) one’s credit. The days of fees are gone. Some other highlights of the new law:

  • As discussed, consumers can now freeze and unfreeze their credit for free.
  • Parents can put a freeze on their children’s credit for free (applies to children under 16).
  • Guardians, conservators, and those with a valid power of attorney can also get a free freeze for their dependents.
  • Fraud alerts placed on a consumer’s credit file will be extended from 90 days to one year.

It hopefully just got a little more difficult for scammers to abuse someone’s credit information! How to put a freeze on your credit? Consumers must contact each of the three major credit agencies independently to place a credit freeze on their accounts.

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