If you are worried about identity theft, this new law should make you stress a little less.
Starting on September 21, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will make protecting your credit files easier than ever. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act lets you request a free credit freeze from the major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), which must comply by the next business day.
If you suddenly discover that your identity has been stolen, or just decide to freeze your credit as a precaution, the new rule makes it faster and cheaper for most consumers.
What Is a Credit Freeze?
A freeze is when you restrict access to your credit report. If an identity thief steals your credit card information or Social Security Number and tries to open an account in your name, the lender will have to check your credit first. However, with a freeze in place, they will not be able to access your credit report.
New Protections for Children
According to a study by T. Rowe Price, 18 percent of children ages 8-14 have credit cards in their own name. Children are especially vulnerable to identity theft because they do not have much of a credit history. Thieves view them as an easy target, assuming no one will check their credit report for fraudulent accounts.
However, with the new law, children age 16 and under can now have their credit frozen as well.
Is a Credit Freeze Better Than a Fraud Alert?
Typically, experts recommend that you freeze your credit only if you’re confident that someone has stolen your personal information. Remember, freezes also prevent you from opening new accounts.
If you want to be cautious but do not wish to lock down your credit completely, you can create fraud alerts. With alerts, creditors are required to verify your identity if they want to get a copy of your credit report. And unlike a freeze, you can still open new accounts.