Free credit freezes, fraud alerts starting Sept. 21
A new federal law means new FREE protections from identity theft.
Starting September 21, you’ll be able to arrange free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts with all three of the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian & TransUnion).
A credit freeze locks down access to your credit without a PIN or password. A freeze typically runs as much as $15. To date, only Equifax offers free credit freezes in the wake of the bureau’s data breach last year that put more than 140 million Americans’ credit identities at risk. The new law will require all three of the bureaus to offer free credit freezes starting Sept. 21.
With your PIN or password, you’ll be able to freeze and unfreeze access to your credit reports. Any attempt to access or “ping” your credit report will require PIN or password-initiated permission. That means if you plan to apply for a mortgage, car loan or other credit line, you will have to remove the freeze before you apply.
The new law also provides for child credit freezes. Identity thieves often steal the Social Security numbers of children, opening lines of credit that aren’t detected until the child turns 18 and tries to apply for a loan or credit card. Parents will be able to freeze their children’s personal information until they are old enough to use it.
In addition to freezes, you’ll be able to arrange free fraud alerts on each of your credit reports. A fraud alert requires any business running a credit check on you to get your permission before opening a new account. If someone or something tries to open an account without your permission, you’ll receive an email notification. Fraud alerts typically only last 90 days. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said starting Sept. 21, consumers can launch an initial alert on each report for a year, and identity theft victims can extend those alerts as long as seven years.
The three credit bureaus will have to set up a web page to enable one-stop access for the freezes and alerts. The FTC will post links to that page at IdentityTheft.gov once the law takes effect.
You can still score a free credit report per year from each of the three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. That is the ONLY site that is approved and secure for linking to all of the bureaus for free credit reports.
A Springfield, Missouri TV station produced an informative story on the freezes, alerts and expectations of the Sept. 21 protections. You can link to it here.
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