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You Can Soon Freeze Your Credit for Free. Here’s Why You Should Do It
Nowadays, we’re all hyperaware of the need to protect our identities and to know what’s going on with our credit.
And we’re leery of the fraud protection recommended by the companies that leaked our information in the first place.
Hard stare, Equifax.
The easiest way to make sure no one steals your identity is to freeze your credit.
A credit freeze restricts access to your credit file so fraudsters (and you) cannot open new credit accounts. To “thaw” your account, you’ll need a randomly generated pin provided to you by the reporting bureau. Historically, a credit freeze has cost anywhere from $3-$10, depending on where you live.
But here’s the good news: Beginning Sept. 21, you’ll be able to freeze and unfreeze your credit for free, as well as receive yearlong fraud reports from all three credit bureaus.
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion will all create new websites specifically for you to freeze your credit and request fraud alerts.
Fraud alerts require any business that runs your credit for something like a credit card or a car loan to notify you before the account can be opened. These have always been free, but you could previously only set them up for 90 days at a time. Now, any alerts initiated after Sept. 21 will last a whole year.
This is all thanks to a federal law passed in May after the Equifax breach. Our identities may be at risk, but on the bright side, we at least get this one long-awaited change to show for it.
When the websites for the three credit reporting bureaus are up, you’ll be able to find the links at IdentityTheft.gov.
Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She gives money saving and debt payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.