It just got a little easier to protect your identity.
Congress recently passed legislation that will roll back regulations on banks originally created by the Dodd-Frank Act. One of the most notable provisions of the bill prohibits the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — from charging a fee to freeze your credit report. By Sept. 21, consumers will be able to place and lift a freeze on their credit files for free.
Placing a freeze on your credit report restricts the credit bureau from disclosing your personal information, which effectively prevents identity thieves from opening a line of credit or loan in your name.
Click to learn how to report identity theft.
The cost to freeze your credit report currently varies by state, with most security freezes costing between $3 and $10 at each bureau, according to the U.S. Public Interest Group. An additional fee ranging from $2 to $12 is required to temporarily remove a freeze. Some states, however, have already implemented laws to eliminate these fees.
Equifax, which was the target of a massive data breach in 2017 that exposed the personal information of more than 147 million Americans, is also offering free credit report freezes to all consumers until June 30.
The new law is a win for consumers who, in addition to the no-fee credit freezes, now have the right to set up a fraud alert on their credit file for up to one year at no extra cost. Doing so will require businesses to verify your identity before extending new credit. Identity theft victims are also entitled to an extended fraud alert lasting seven years, according to Consumer Reports.
Even with these new measures, consumers should continue to monitor their credit and personal information as a credit freeze can still leave you vulnerable to identity theft.
Click to keep reading about how to protect yourself against credit card fraud.
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