The U.S. Congress has made placing or removing a Credit Freeze with TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian® free for all consumers.
The federal Credit Freeze legislation also requires that the three credit bureaus expedite consumer requests to freeze their credit reports: one business day for online or phone requests, and three business days if requested by mail.
A Credit Freeze, also called a Security Freeze, prevents any potential new creditor – whether it’s a bank, mortgage lender, credit card company or auto loan firm – from pulling credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax or Experian. After a freeze is placed, only those specifically named by the consumer are authorized to view the credit reports.
In most states, some consumers pay between $2 and $10 to each of the three credit bureaus every time they place, and subsequently lift, a Credit Freeze. A few states have made Credit Freeze actions free to help protect their residents from the rash of major data breaches that have exposed the personal information of hundreds of millions of Americans to identity thieves.
The federal bill now heads to President Trump’s desk to await his signature. When signed, the free Credit Freeze law will go into effect approximately four months later.
Keep in mind that Credit Freezes do not protect against current account fraud or other forms of identity fraud. With data attacks and identity theft becoming more prevalent, early detection is critical. Even with a freeze in place, you should still monitor your accounts and regularly check your credit reports for unusual activity that could be a red flag your information is being sold on the black market.