5 Ways Freezing Your Credit Just Got Easier

U-Prosper Education Center

5 Ways Freezing Your Credit Just Got Easier

The statistics of identity theft are alarming. In 2017, 16.7 million consumers were victims of identity theft, surpassing the record from the previous year. The amount stolen from victims last year was an astounding 16.8 billion. The risk of identity theft today is 1 in 15.

Freezing your credit is one of the many tools at your disposal for preventing identity theft. By "freezing" your credit you are preventing anyone from opening an account in your name. After you freeze your credit, you will receive a pin. No one(including you) can open up a loan or line of credit under your name until your credit is "thawed".

To thaw your credit, you must go to each credit bureau and use the pin provided. Since you are the only person with the pin, you have now blocked any criminals from opening an account in your name.

On September 21, new legislation was passed that made freezing your credit easier and more effective. Here are the most important changes:

1) Freezing and thawing your credit is now free

There is now no cost to “Freeze” or “Thaw” your credit. In the past, certain states allowed the credit bureaus to charge a fee and certain states didn’t. Now it’s no mystery. The three major credit bureaus(Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) must allow you to freeze and thaw your credit at no cost.

2) Credit freezes can be done online

All three credit bureaus are now required to offer all individuals the ability to freeze and thaw your credit online. The links to do this are included at the bottom of this article. Instead of calling a phone number and being put on hold – the whole process can be done quickly and easily through an online portal.

3) Fraud alert extensions

Fraud Alerts are another way of fighting identity theft. If you believe your information was compromised, setting up a credit alert is a good way to stay safe. When setting up a fraud alert, you give each credit bureau a number that must be called in case your credit is pulled.

Once set up a fraud alert will appear on your file anytime a loan is attempted to be opened in your name. Once the alert appears, the lender will then have to call the number you provided to assure that it is actually you who wants to open the loan.

Before this bill, these alerts were only active for 90 days. Now they are active for a full year. This makes fraud alerts a lot more effective and will help victims when their data is compromised.

4) Parents can freeze their children’s credit

This new law now gives parents the right to freeze their children’s credit.

Over 1 million children had their identity compromised in 2017. Since children don’t really need to worry about credit it is rarely checked. Children aren’t buying cars and taking out credit cards so there is also no opportunity for them to learn about what’s on their credit report.

5) Credit freezes are instant

It used to take 7 days for a freeze to go into effect. The new bill cuts that down to only 1. This is important because if your identity is stolen, the sooner your credit is frozen the less damage can be inflicted on you.

How to freeze?

To freeze your credit, you must freeze your credit at each of the three major credit burueas.The links to all three are found below.

Equifax:https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/

Experian:https://www.experian.com/freeze/

Transunion:https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze