Many states allow the big three bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to charge a fee for placing or lifting a security freeze. But thanks to a federal law enacted earlier this year, after Sept. 21, 2018 it will be free to freeze and unfreeze your credit file and those of your children or dependents throughout the United States. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, when the new law takes effect on September 21, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion must each set up a webpage for requesting fraud alerts and credit freezes.
The law also provides additional ID theft protections to minors. Starting Sept. 21, you’ll be able to get a free credit freeze for kids under 16 years old. Identity thieves can and often do target minors, but this type of fraud usually isn’t discovered until the affected individual tries to apply for credit for the first time, at which point it can be a long and expensive road to undo the mess.
HINT: The bureaus’ use of the term credit lock has confused many consumers. Keep in mind about these lock services: Unlike freezes, locks are not governed by any law, meaning that the credit bureaus can change the terms of these arrangements when and if it suits them to do so.
DOWNSIDE: Under the new law fraud alerts last for “one year” but you can renew the freeze. Keep in mind that lenders and service providers are supposed to seek and obtain your approval if you have a fraud alert on your file, they’re not legally required to do this.
Here are links to pages found for each bureau as of September 11, 2018…