Identity theft can happen to anyone, but consumers will soon have a new free tool to help protect themselves against scammers who would steal their financial information. The three nationwide credit reporting agencies in the U.S. (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) will be required by a new law to allow consumers to “freeze” and “thaw” their credit report for free.
The new law, called The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, will go into effect on September 21, 2018. When the new law goes into effect, freezing and unfreezing your credit will be simpler and free. The new law also allows any parent to freeze their child’s credit. A child’s credit report is especially valuable since it is clean and often not monitored regularly.
Consumers will still have to freeze their credit at each individual credit bureau, however, it can be done through their online portals that will make the process much simpler. Upon receiving a freeze request, the agency is required to do so within one day. Unfreezing a credit report must be completed within one hour of the request.
Additionally, the new law extends initial fraud alerts on your credit report from 90 days to 1 year and allows victims of identity theft to place a fraud alert on their credit reports for 7 years. Over the next year, the credit reporting agencies are also required to provide free credit monitoring services to all active duty military personnel.
To learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft, you can visit BBB’s scam tip page on identity theft. And to learn about federal resources for protecting yourself and recovering from identity theft, visit identitytheft.gov.