As of September 21, 2018, freezing and unfreezing your credit is now free. Under a new federal law, you will no longer need to pay a fee for freeze requests, and fraud alerts on credit reports are now valid for a year, extended from the prior timeline of 90 days.
What’s a Credit Freeze?
Credit freezes restrict access to your credit. They are an important way to combat identify thieves, who steal personal information in order to open accounts and credit lines. With a credit freeze in place, access to the credit is denied until the consumer who placed the freeze requests its removal. Up until recently, there was a fee to place or a remove a freeze, which may have influenced consumers’ decisions to have this protection in place.
What’s a Fraud Alert?
Fraud alerts on credit reports are another method of preventing identify thieves from using someone else's credit for their own monetary benefit. A fraud alert tells businesses that check your credit to verify with you prior to opening a new account or credit line. Fraud alert requests are still free; however, instead of being active on a credit report for 90 days, they will now be active for a year.
How to Add or Remove Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts
Credit freezes and fraud alerts can protect your credit from unauthorized access. With the removal of the fee requirement, freeze and alert requests are more simplified. To freeze your credit, contact the three national credit bureaus below. To place a fraud alert on your credit, you only need to contact one of the below credit bureaus, as one placed alert will notify the other two bureaus.
If freezing your credit sounds too permanent, know that you can temporarily lift a freeze, should you need your credit accessed by a business (for instance, when applying for a loan or opening a new account). A pin number is provided at the time you place a credit freeze on your file. When you’re ready to remove the freeze (if only temporary), contact the credit bureau by phone or online and supply the pin. Keep in mind that it can take 24 hours for the freeze to be lifted from your credit, so plan accordingly, when you know that you’ll be having your credit run.
For more fraud prevention tips, check out the Fraud & Identify Theft section of our blog.