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Looking for stronger ways to protect your credit? Thanks to a new federal law, soon you can get free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts. Here’s what to look forward to when the law takes effect on September 21st:

Free credit freezes

  • What is it? A credit freeze restricts access to your credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Usually you get a PIN to use each time you want to freeze and unfreeze your account to apply for new credit.
  • What’s new? Currently, credit freezes may involve fees, based on state law. Starting this fall, it will be free to freeze and unfreeze your credit file throughout the country.

Free child credit freezes

  • What is it? A child credit freeze allows you to freeze a child’s credit file until the child is old enough to use credit.
  • What’s new? Currently, some state laws allow you to freeze a child’s credit file. Starting September 21st, no matter where you live, you’ll be able to get a free credit freeze for children under age 16.

Year-long fraud alerts

  • What is it? A fraud alert will tell any business that runs your credit that they should check with you before opening a new account.
  • What’s new? Currently, fraud alerts last 90 days. Starting this fall, an initial fraud alert will last for one year. It will still be free and identity theft victims can still get an extended fraud alert for seven years.

The new law has a long name – Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act – but the outcome is simple. When the law takes effect in September, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion must each set up a webpage for requesting fraud alerts and credit freezes. The FTC will also post links to those webpages on IdentityTheft.gov.

And if you’re in the military, there’s more. Within a year, credit reporting agencies must offer free electronic credit monitoring to all active duty military.

If you want to stay tuned on this law and get other tips, sign up for the FTC's Consumer Information Updates.

77 Comments


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John
July 21, 2018
What about unfreezing the credit? Is that free as well?
FTC Staff
September 17, 2018

In reply to by John

Starting September 21, 2018, it will be free to freeze and unfreeze your credit file throughout the country.

Needinfo
July 27, 2018
What about Innovis, the forth credit agency? Are they included in this new law?
inetblue
July 30, 2018
My credit is already frozen. However, each time I wish to temporarily unfreeze my credit, as when applying for a credit card etc, each reporting agency requires I pay $10. It seems some states require this service to be free but CA allows the $10 fee. Will the new law mandate the credit agencies to stop charging $10 for a temporary lift?
FTC Staff
September 17, 2018

In reply to by inetblue

Starting September 21, 2018, it will be free to place and lift a freeze on your credit file, nationwide.

Sr
August 17, 2018
Can't wait. Excellent.
Caritop7
August 23, 2018
I think is great
Why does the F…
August 24, 2018
The FTC does NOTHING to help the consumer, Not ONE THING!! IF you are lucky that your info doesn't get stuck in their system but they do NOT actually help consumers JUST BEWARE!! FTC takes ALL OF YOUR personal data shares it w other sources so how do we know that YOU will NOT GET HACKED?? You now have the largest database of secured data yet NOT helping individual consumers. Local sheriff's REFUSE to help Identity theft victims IF under $3k and the victims themselves are the ones who are left to clean up the mess. The victims are the ones who are then treated like the criminal bc their credit is locked, they can no longer access anything online, they have to jump thru hoops IF they want to attempt to get credit, it takes months or years to straighten out errors on credit reports for what a criminal did. Make it easier for a VICTIM TO GET HELP TO PROSECUTE and DEMAND the Local sheriff's go after these criminals!!
Thurman
September 04, 2018
Does the law also allow parents to freeze their child's credit file if there is none (ie. will the CRAs open a file and then immediately freeze it)?
FTC Staff
September 25, 2018

In reply to by Thurman

As of September 21, 2018, you can get a free freeze for your children who are under age 16. To get a freeze, contact all three of the nationwide credit reporting agencies:

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

Samson
September 04, 2018
These criminals at Experian, Equifax, and Transunion should have been prosecuted under RICO. They offered a service for which the problem was self-created, the very definition of racketeering. I'll be satisfied with free freezes and unfreezes for the time being, however.
Janet
September 14, 2018
We've frozen ours due to possible identity theft. They attempted to open several accounts with Sprint, and our credit card notified us (thankfully!). Freezing was $10 with each bureau this time last year, even with proof that someone had been attempting to use our SS number. We tried to freeze our kids but the hoops to jump were ridiculous. We will definitely try again.
Curious
September 16, 2018
Do we have to set up on all 3 (Equifax,Experian & TransUnion) or is here an place to do it for all 3?
FTC Staff
September 17, 2018

In reply to by Curious

When the law takes effect on September 21, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion must each set up a webpage for requesting fraud alerts and credit freezes. The FTC will also post links to those webpages on IdentityTheft.gov.

T. Al
September 16, 2018
Appears this item can be shared thru Twitter, LinkedIn pr Facebook. I do not use any of them. I SHOULD be able to email these articles. Alternatively, how about giving us a PRINT option?
FTC Staff
September 17, 2018

In reply to by T. Al

Actually, you are able to email AND print the blog post.

You have two choices to email:

(1) copy the URL from the top of the blog post page (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/06/free-credit-freezes-are-coming-soon-0) and paste that into a message

(2) copy the text of the entire blog and paste that into your message

To print: Open your browser to the blog. Click the print command on your computer. Some computers use the shorthand command of clicking "Control" and the letter "P" to open the Print box. You will get a printed version of the blog post centered on a page.

Sm
September 19, 2018

In reply to by T. Al

You can print the article by selecting the print option from the browser menu on a computer. It is also possible to print to PDF or to a printer from your smart phone. Look up the procedure online for your phone. :)
mo
September 17, 2018
Fantastic!! Loving this.
Faith15
September 17, 2018
Does your credit still grow and build (or go down) if it's frozen?
FTC Staff
September 17, 2018

In reply to by Faith15

Yes, your credit can still change after you place a freeze on your credit file.

When you place a freeze on your credit file, businesses can still report whether you are paying your bills on time, or late. When there is a freeze on your file, it means it is harder for a thief to open a new account in your name.

viskal
September 20, 2018
Should credit freezes be put for my deceased father, mother and brother?
FTC Staff
September 28, 2018

In reply to by viskal

You can’t freeze the credit file of a deceased family member, but you can update their file to show they are deceased. The update lets the credit reporting agency “flag” a person’s file to make it harder for someone to use their identity to commit fraud. Credit reporting agencies also receive notice of a death from the Social Security Administration and from a person’s lenders.

To notify the credit reporting agencies yourself, contact one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. That agency will notify the other two. You must give a death certificate, information about the deceased, and documents showing that you are the person’s spouse, executor, or otherwise have legal authority to act on their behalf. You can get more information about this from the credit reporting agency websites.

Dr. David
October 27, 2018
If I already had a 90 day fraud alert before this new law, will they automatically extend it to a year? I tried to renew my fraud alert after 90 days that was placed in July and they said I already had a fraud alert on file.
Cornbread
December 07, 2018
When will my freeze start?
FTC Staff
December 07, 2018

In reply to by Cornbread

You must ask for a credit freeze. You must ask all three of the nationwide credit reporting agencies. Here is contact information for the three agencies:

Equifax

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

Experian

www.Experian.com/help ; 888-397-3742

Transunion

www.TransUnion.com/credit-help; 888-909-8872

damehauke
February 17, 2019
I joined the Experian TrustedID for my freeze. I was told that it would be extended for another year. A month later I have gotten an email saying that it is cancelled. Too bad we can't just put a freeze on regardless AT NO COST. Especially since these credit agencies have a marketing division that they sell our information to for mailings.