In many states there have previously been rules surrounding credit freezes. Now, states have lifted the rules and no matter where you live in the U.S. you can freeze your credit for free with the following credit bureaus:
A credit freeze prevents lenders and credit providers from opening a new account without unfreezing the account. The change took place Friday, September 21, 2018. and was put into effect by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law earlier this year.
This new freeze rule was initiated partially because of the major data breach at Equifax last year which exposed the personal information of over 145 Million consumers to hackers around the world. Consumers want more control over their credit, and now they will have it as, under the bill, consumers can now freeze and unfreeze their credit for free, as well as freeze and unfreeze their children’s (under 16) credit for free. Any guardian, conservator, or power of attorney will now also have the same ability for anyone that is considered their dependent.
Another benefit is that any fraud alerts placed on a credit file will be extended from just 90 days to one year. When a fraud alert is placed on an account, it requires a business to check a consumer’s credit & to get the consumer’s approval before opening a new account.
However, to freeze credit, you must place a call to each credit bureau individually. Each credit reporting agency is required to freeze the account within 1 day of the request being made, whether over the phone. If the consumer makes the request by snail mail, the agency is required to take action within 3 business days.
Unfreezes must happen within 1 hour.
If you do choose to freeze your credit – here are 5 factor you should be aware of before you jump in feet first.
- Any application that you, or anyone with your information tries to run while your credit is frozen, will be rejected. This applies to loan applications and credit cards.
- You will be asked to respond to a series of questions to validate your identity. And you, in turn, will receive a pin that will allow you access to your credit.
- A credit freeze does not protect everything. A credit freeze does not prevent financial loss if your credit card number should fall into the hands of a thief.
- There is a delay when seeking to retrieve data in association with a loan or credit card and your account is frozen.
- Continue to check your credit and accounts even during a freeze period. Always remain vigilant where your money is concerned. Keeping an eye on your account will significantly lessen your chance that a breach will occur.
Lastly, if you are still concerned, but don’t necessarily want to freeze your credit – consider signing up for fraud alerts. Credit agencies can put a warning on your credit report that requires any lender to verify the identity of anyone attempting to open an account in your name. We consider this a valid and secure option when it comes to protecting your credit.