19 Oct Protect Yourself With A Free Credit Freeze
If you have not already placed freezes on your credit files, now is a good time to do so. These freezes are now free for all three credit bureaus. The new law has a long name – Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act – but the outcome is simple. Since the law took effect on September 21, 2018, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion must each have a web page for requesting fraud alerts and credit freezes. The FTC will also posts links to those web pages on IdentityTheft.gov.
What is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze “locks” access to your credit report – the major benefit of which is that an ID thief cannot open a new credit account using your information. Be aware that once you establish a freeze, you will not be able to open new credit accounts for yourself without first unfreezing the accounts. When you freeze your accounts, you will be assigned a code (PIN number) that is required to unfreeze these same accounts. Three Credit Bureaus = three PINs. Replacing a lost PIN is complicated, convoluted, and time consuming so keep a record of them. The FTC Consumer Information has a comprehensive article on credit freezes.
By the way, freezes are very different than placing “fraud alerts” on your files. Fraud alerts are temporary and less effective. They merely require that creditors take extra care when they issue new credit in your name, and it’s never been terribly clear what that means. It is probably not worth your effort to set these up.
How do I set up a Credit Freeze?
Each state has their own set of rules about who can request a credit freeze. (For Virginia, Any consumer who is a resident of the state, including a representative of a “protected consumer,” a consumer who is either: 1. Under the age of 16 years at the time a request for the placement of a security freeze is made; or 2. An incapacitated person for whom a guardian or conservator has been appointed in accordance with Chapter 20 (§64.2-2000 et seq.) of Title 64.2.) You then go directly to the Equifax , Experian and the TransUnion freeze websites.
WARNING: If you do a web search on “security freeze”, you’re going to see a lot of dishonorable service vendors that want your money for what sound like, but are not, freezes. As mentioned previously, make sure to keep track of the PINs you choose for each of these. You will need to unfreeze your accounts should you want to open a new credit account. – Jenny Williams