In a step toward protecting Americans from fraud, the federal government passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. It is absurdly easy for people such as hackers, thieves, and even relatives to open accounts in your name, but this can change if you are diligent. The new law, enacted in July of 2018 allows you to freeze your credit so no one can open a new account without your explicit permission.
The New Law
You may not be aware, but you most likely have been able to freeze your credit (it previously varied by state). However, you were only able to do it for 90 days at a time. You could also sign up for fraud alerts, but this service was not free.
With the new bill:
The freeze service is available in all 50 states.
You may freeze your credit for up to one year. During this year, you can open new accounts, but you must present a PIN. If anyone else tries to open an account in your name, they will be prompted for the PIN as well.
You have the ability to freeze your children’s credit if they are under the age of 16y.
To utilize the free freeze service, you must:
Contact all three credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian).
Specify that you would like to utilize the “freeze” service and not the “lock” service. The lock service is not free.
Keep in mind that, if you choose to freeze your credit accounts with all three bureaus, you must also contact all three to unfreeze your account. If you want to apply for a new credit card, loan, or any other line of credit, it could prove cumbersome.
So, you know what you must do, but what responsibilities do the credit bureaus have?
Responsibilities of the Bureaus
If you contact a credit bureau and ask them to place a freeze on your account, they must do so within one business day. If you ask them to unfreeze your account, they must do so within one hour.
If it is too late and you have already been the victim of fraud, you just need to submit the claim to one credit bureau, and they will contact the other two on your behalf.
In the event that you suspect the bureau(s) did not place a credit freeze on your account, you are encouraged to submit a claim online with consumerfinance.gov or call them at 855-411-2372.
If you have been the victim of credit fraud or identity theft, you need help.
It can be extremely difficult to navigate the complex issue of credit reporting, credit debt defense, and identity theft. Resolution of these issues requires a multi-faceted team of professionals and a coordinated effort.
If you have been victimized and are being harassed by creditors, get the help you need right away. Elias Dsouza has been defending victims like you for over 15 years. Contact Elias today for a free consultation.