Remember a few months ago when Equifax divulged that it had experienced a security breach, exposing millions of Americans’ data? One of the most annoying parts about that whole ordeal was that those looking to take proactive measures such as freezing their credit were met with fees to do so. Now a new law passed by Congress and signed by the President is set to change that.
As The Penny Hoarder reports, starting this September, credit freezes will become a free service under the rules of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Before this, freezes in most states cost consumers as much as $10. That might not sound like much, however that price also per credit bureau — not to mention additional fees for temporary thaws.
Personally, as someone who’s frozen their credit and had to pay $5 a pop for each time I wanted to unfreeze it, I’m pretty excited about this change. Moreover, with the new policy, I feel it’s time to once again explain what credit freezes are and why I’d recommend them.
Following the Equifax hack and numerous other breaches, many people’s personal data is now exposed to criminals that may try to open credit accounts in your name. But, by having a freeze on your credit, you can prevent them from being successful as those trying to pull your credit will be unable to do so. Plus, if you do need to apply for credit, you can always request a temporary lift on your credit report using the PIN you’ll be issued when requesting your initial freeze.
Something to keep in mind is that, even if you do freeze your credit, you’ll still want to keep a close eye on your current accounts as freezes only prevent the opening of new credit. Luckily, the recent bill could also help you on that front as it extends free fraud alerts from a mandatory 90 days to one year. After that, you may want to look into other ways to monitor your credit as well as double check your statement balances for any fraudulent activity.
Overall, these two aspects of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act are positive steps and are arguably one good thing that has come out of the Equifax nightmare. If you’ve considered putting a freeze on your credit but didn’t want to pay up, it looks like this Fall may be the time to do it. On that note, be sure to file freezes with all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
This article was first published on Money@30.