In today’s Your Money, Kathy Sweedler shows us some ways you can take advantage of a federal law and freeze your credit.
New Federal Law Helps Protect You from Identity Theft
Now you can freeze your credit reports for free, due to a new federal law that went into effect on September 21st.
Why should you care?
Data breaches, including the large one at Equifax earlier this year, means that we are at a higher risk for identity theft. One form of identity theft is when someone uses your personal information – such as your social security number – to apply for credit, whether it’s a personal loan or a credit card. This new law gives you the opportunity to minimize this risk.
What is different because of this law?
Two important things are different. First, you can freeze your credit reports so that no one can have access to them for FREE. And, you can lift the freeze for FREE too.
Second, if you place a fraud alert on your credit reports, it will stay on for a year instead of only three months.
How are credit freezes and fraud alerts different?
A credit freeze means that lenders will not be able to access your credit report and they’ll be less likely to issue a loan. With a fraud alert, businesses that check your credit are notified that they should check with you before opening a new account. A credit freeze locks down your credit reports much more than a fraud alert.
What is the disadvantage to a credit freeze?
Your credit reports aren’t accessible immediately. If you decide you want to apply for a loan, a different insurance policy, or rent an apartment, then you’ll need to lift your credit freeze first. If you request a lift of the freeze by phone or online, it should be lifted within one hour. If you request it by mail, it may take three days from the receipt of the request.
How can you place a credit freeze or fraud alert?
Contact each of the three national credit bureaus to request fraud alerts and credit freezes (also known as security freezes).
Credit Bureau Contact Information