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Free credit freezes are here

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Free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts are here, starting September 21st, thanks to a new federal law. Here’s what you should know:

Free credit freezes

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. Starting September 21, 2018, you can 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 will these freezes 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 after it gets your request. 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. Starting September 21, 2018, when you place a fraud alert, it will last one year, instead of 90 days. 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 three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. The one that you contact must notify the other two. You also can find links to their websites at IdentityTheft.gov/CreditBureauContacts.

Issues with a credit freeze

If you think a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint online or by calling 855-411-2372. If you think someone stole your identity, visit the FTC’s website, IdentityTheft.gov, to get a personalized recovery plan that walks you through the steps to take.

For more information, check out Place a Fraud Alert, Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes, and Credit Freeze FAQs. And if you’re considering a child credit freeze, you also may want to read Child Identity Theft.

Credit Bureau Contacts

Contact the national credit bureaus to request fraud alerts, credit freezes (also known as security freezes), and opt outs from pre‑screened credit offers.

Equifax
Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
800-685-1111

Experian
Experian.com/help
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

Transunion
TransUnion.com/credit-help
888-909-8872

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

experian requires mailed requst for credit freeze. too slow

Experian is making me jump through hoops to place credit-freeze. I'm doing it online. Im answering all their questions, but they're saying Im not providing enough info. They're asking me to mail just about every paper document I possess, including a utility bill. IMO, ITS A STALL TACTIC. Hope someone in consumer protection calls them out.

Have tried for hours to use the Experian website to remove freeze, have called several numbers listed for customer service, continue to receive notice that I must send the request in writing. What's the point of having a website as well as CS number if there is no human to help?

If you think a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint online or by calling 855-411-2372.

If someone gets my personal info from somewhere else, it would seem they can go the the credit reporting agencies, masquerading as me, and lift a credit freeze. What defenses are in place to prevent unauthorized lifting of a freeze?

Each credit bureau should provide you with a unique PIN or password when you place a freeze on your credit report. You need to have that PIN or password if you choose to lift the freeze.

Transunion is easy and straightforward, Equifax wants to snail mail a code # to verify ID (which is OK), but Experian seem to want to make it so difficult that one will give up ( don’t accept online info, online questions are meaningless, and want request to freeze mailed in with multiple ID copies). They want full SS# number over the phone which I am not comfortable with. Why is FTC allowing this?

If you think a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint online or by calling 855-411-2372.

Do I need to freeze credit with all 3 bureaus? or is one enough?

 A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report, which makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. You can choose whether you want to protect your information at one, two or three credit reporting bureaus.

Do both members of a married couple need to freeze their credit with each agency? Since there are 3 major credit reporting agencies, do we need to submit 3 requests for my husband and 3 for me for a total of 6 requests?

Usually, each member of a married couple has a credit report. A person's credit report has information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, or filed for bankruptcy. Even if a married couple has some joint credit - like a mortgage - they have their own  credit reports.  Each person has to ask for their own credit freezes. This article about credit freezes has links to the credit bureaus and more information.

 

I placed a freeze with all 3 bureaus after the massive equifax breach but since then temporarily lifted them a couple of time for a specific period of time. Is there a way to double check that the freeze is back on?

Can a freeze or unfreeze for all three credit reporting agencies be easily done online rather than calling each individual agency?

You should have gotten a PIN or password at each credit bureau when you froze your report at that bureau. When you want to unfreeze your report at a bureau, you have to contact the bureau and give your PIN or password before it will unfreeze your credit report. There is no central source for unfreezing all the reports at once. Read more about credit freezes.

Be careful! EXPERIAN REFUSES to unfreeze my credit profile. Even with the pin they provided. I have been unable to get any loans for several years now. It has been a huge headache. I call them and get the run around and passed around. They eventually tell me I just need a new pin. I get new pin and it, again, doesn’t work. This company needs a federal investigation into them.

If you think a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint online or by calling 855-411-2372.

I was disputing a claim on my Equifax report and the next thing I know I'm getting an email saying I signed up with Equifax for a security freeze and will be getting monitoring and two free reports a year. I didn't ask for that. I just wanted an explanation from the company and it off my report? Does this mess up my claim? Can they just sign you up or are these two different things?

When you dispute error on your credit report, contact the credit reporting company and the business that gave the information. Credit reporting companies usually have to investigate your dispute within 30 days and send you an answer in writing. This article tells more about disputing errors.

You are not required to sign up for a security freeze, monitoring or other services so that a company will review your dispute.

You can ask Equifax why you're signed up for the security freeze and other services. See if there is a contact number or email on the message they sent you.

If you put a freeze on your credit report and need to release it, why is it difficult?

The credit bureau should have given you a PIN or password when you asked to freeze your account. You need the PIN or password when you ask to lift the freeze.

A freeze stays in place until you ask the credit bureau to lift it temporarily or remove it. If you make the request online or by phone, a credit bureau must lift a freeze within one hour. If you make the request by mail, the bureau must lift the freeze no later than three business days after it gets your request.

You can report problems you have with a credit bureau to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

I think someone from the Consumer Credit Agency should test the credit freeze process from all 3 credit bureaus as they don't all make it easy for consumers to place the freeze. I believe the government has the responsibilities to correct or insist that these credit bureaus help consumers avoid id theft as well as providing the services to stay in business. If not, the government should fine them or shut them down, because we don't have the power to make them work for us. I didn't have problems with Experian and Transition, but it was a nightmare to try to get through with Equifax. I tried calling several times on different days, answered all the ID questions but got a message each time that they cannot process my request. Then one day I finally got through to speak with an agent, he was more interested in selling my a credit report for a fee instead of helping me to place a freeze on my account. Then finally after refusing to pay and insisting that I wanted my credit account frozen, he said, "it is done and you will receive a letter in the mail in 7 days." I asked for a confirmation number but he said there was non to give to me. I waited approx. an hour and called back, got a woman agent this time, explained to her my concerns, she was very polite and helpful to give me the confirmation number, said I will also get a letter in the mail in 5 days. I tried to give a requested survey on the phone about the service, but the system is a joke. If Equifax is truly interested in the survey or improve their services, they have a lot of work to do. I don't feel comfortable that I am protected until the government clamp down on these credit bureaus. I hope that you are listening and will help us out. Thank you for listening.

If you think a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint online or by calling 855-411-2372.

I did contact the credit bureau this should not stop me from getting a loan out on my house

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