All three credit bureaus now required to offer FREE credit freezes
Consumers who are concerned about identity theft or data breaches can now freeze their credit and place one-year fraud alerts for free. This is part of the new Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, restricts access to a consumer’s credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in the consumer’s name. The new law also allows parents to freeze for free the credit of their children who are under 16, while guardians, conservators, and those with a valid power of attorney can get a free freeze for their dependents.
In addition, the new law extends the duration of a fraud alert on a consumer’s credit report from 90 days to one year. A fraud alert requires businesses that check a consumer’s credit to get the consumer’s approval before opening a new account.
To place a credit freeze on their accounts, consumers will need to contact all three nationwide credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Whether consumers ask for a freeze online or by phone, the credit bureau must put the freeze in place within one business day. When consumers request to lift the freeze by phone or online, the credit bureaus must take that action within one hour. (If consumers make these requests by mail, the agency must place or lift the freeze within three business days.)
To place a fraud alert, consumers need only contact one of the three credit bureaus, which will notify the other two bureaus. Get more info on credit freezes from the Federal Trade Commission.