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Free Credit Freezes and Yearlong Fraud Alerts

| October 25, 2018

Beginning September 21, 2018, those concerned about identity theft can freeze their credit and place one-year fraud alerts at no cost.

Due to the passage of the new Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, consumers in all states will now be able to place a free freeze on their credit.  Previously, some states allowed fees to be charged for this act of protection.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, 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.  Parents can also freeze the credit of their children who are under 16 for free.  Guardians, conservators, and those with a valid power of attorney (POA) can get a no-cost freeze for their dependents as well.

In addition to this, 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.

As part of these changes, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has updated its website.

To place a freeze on their credit, consumers will need to contact all three nationwide credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  This can be done online, by phone, or via mail.  If the request is done online or by phone credit bureau must put the freeze in place within one business day.  Requests to lift a freeze must be executed within one hour.  Mail-in requests must be executed within three business days.

To place a fraud alert, consumers need only contact one of the three credit bureaus, which will then notify the other two bureaus.

Credit freezes and fraud alerts can be helpful in preventing some forms of identity theft, but will not prevent identity theft in all its forms.  For example, many credit card companies may not check a credit score before issuing a card, and using these measures will not prevent Social Security or other types of fraud. 

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and is for general information only. It is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.