Credit freezes at the three major credit-reporting bureaus will be free across the U.S. starting today, September 21st, after a new federal law took effect. Some states were already requiring this, but in about half the states, consumers had to pay $3 to $12 per bureau to freeze or unfreeze their credit reports.
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion must process requests to freeze and unfreeze credit reports without charge, making it easier for people to prevent outside parties from obtaining their credit histories. This is a great way to avoid any credit card fraud in your name. A freeze prevents lenders from pulling a person’s credit report from one of these bureaus, a key part of the approval process for a credit card or loan, thus preventing fraudsters from opening a new account in your name or the name.
There’s many companies out there that collect consumer-financial information. But most credit checks for loans and credit cards get processed through the main three bureaus, which is why this new law focuses on them.
How to “Freeze” Your Credit Report
Freezes may be placed online, by phone, or via regular mail. Online is probably the most preferred option for most people. You will have to sign up for separate accounts at each of the three credit bureaus.
- Go to the credit bureau website
- Enter name, address, social security number and date of birth. You also may need to answer a few questions about your background, including loans you’ve taken out, credit cards you hold or previous addresses to confirm your identity. If the credit bureaus cannot sufficiently verify your identity based on the information you’ve provided, you may need to mail in copies of your driver’s license, utility bills or other documents.
- Select the security freeze/unfreeze option.
- Save your PIN number, as you will need it to change the status of your freeze/unfreeze later on.