Consumers Can Now Request Credit Freezes for Free

September 21, 2018

It’s common advice to freeze your credit information when cybersecurity breaches potentially put your personal financial data into the hands of criminals who seek to exploit it. However, the three major credit-reporting agencies have routinely charged a fee to put that credit freeze in place—except in the handful of states that forbid such payments. Now all of that has changed.

Quarter frozen in ice

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A federal law signed in May by President Donald Trump requires credit bureaus, starting Friday, to allow anyone in the United States to restrict access to their credit reports at no cost. Your clients also won’t have to pay a fee to unfreeze their credit so a mortgage provider, credit card issuer, or other entity can access their information in order to evaluate their creditworthiness. Reinstating the freeze after a credit inquiry will be free, too. Keep in mind that consumers need to individually approach Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion to freeze or unfreeze credit.

The new law, known as the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, also allows you to freeze credit files belonging to children under 16 at no charge. In addition, the law requires credit bureaus to offer fraud alerts to victims of cybersecurity threats for a year rather than just 90 days. These alerts let businesses that examine your credit know that they should check with you before opening an account in your name.

—Sam Silverstein, REALTOR® Magazine