Following the Equifax Breach, Credit Freezes Are Now Free Nationwide

Depending upon where you live, it could have cost you between $3 and $12 each

Following the Equifax Breach, Credit Freezes Are Now Free Nationwide
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October 4, 2018

Thanks to a new federal law, free credit freezes and year-long fraud audits are available. It previously cost consumers living in almost half the states between $3 and $12 per credit bureau to freeze or unfreeze credit reports.

Free Credit Freeze

Security freezes, also known as credit freezes, restrict access to your credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. You can now freeze and unfreeze your credit file for free. You also can get a free freeze for your children who are under 16. And if you are someone's guardian, conservator or have a valid power of attorney, you can get a free freeze for that person, too.

How does a credit freeze work?

Contact all three of the nationwide credit reporting agencies— Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you request a freeze online or by phone, the agency must place the freeze within one business day. If you request a lift of the freeze, the agency must lift it within one hour. If you make your request by mail, the agency must place or lift the freeze within three business days of receipt. You also can lift the freeze temporarily without a fee.

Don't confuse freezes with locks. They work in a similar way, but locks may have monthly fees. If you want a free freeze guaranteed by federal law, then opt for a freeze, not a lock.

Year-long fraud alerts

A fraud alert tells businesses that check your credit that they should check with you before opening a new account. Instead of 90 days, a fraud alert will now last for one year. Fraud alerts will still be free and identity theft victims can still get an extended fraud alert for seven years.

Credit freezes and the military

If you're in the military, you'll still have access to active duty alerts, which let you place a fraud alert for one year, renewable for the time you're deployed. The active duty alert also gives you an added benefit: the credit reporting agencies will take your name off their marketing lists for prescreened credit card offers for two years (unless you ask them to add you back on).

You can place a fraud alert or active duty alert by visiting any one of the nationwide credit reporting agencies— Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The one that you contact must notify the other two.