New law lets you freeze your credit for free
Say goodbye to credit companies charging you for freezing your credit. Now you can freeze and unfreeze your credit file for free. The law went into effect September 21, making it harder for people to steal your identity and open accounts under your name. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a credit freeze?
A credit freeze means that no one can get access to your credit files to open a new account, including you. This protects you from other people fraudulently opening accounts in your name. When you are ready to open a new account for yourself, simply unfreeze your credit.
How can I freeze my credit at all credit bureaus?
In order to freeze your credit with any one credit reporting company, you need to contact each individual credit reporting company. There are three main credit reporting companies, Transunion, Experian and Equifax. None of the companies are legally allowed to charge you for freezing and unfreezing your credit.
How does a credit freeze differ from a credit lock?
The rules for freezes are established by law – no one may open an account in your name, including you, while your credit is frozen. A “credit lock” is a term that credit bureaus interpret themselves and the service they provide for those can change. If you get a credit freeze, you know what you are getting. Credit locks may have monthly fees.
Can some companies still look at my credit while a freeze is in place on my account?
Companies that you are currently doing business with, companies that are related to companies that you do business with and companies that you owe money to will still be able to see your credit. None of them will be able to open a new account for you, though.
Will putting a credit freeze on my account lower my credit score?
Will putting a credit freeze on my account prevent me from getting offers for pre-approved credit cards?
No. The only way to stop getting pre-approved credit card offers is to call 888-567-8688 or go online to www.optoutprescreen.com.
Does this law give children freeze protection?
Yes. A parent or guardian of children under 16 can freeze a child’s credit file. If your child does not have a credit file, the law states that the bureau to create one and then freeze it.
Want to learn more about your credit score and how to improve it? Read our article on improving your credit score for free.