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You’ve heard about the new law that makes credit freezes free and fraud alerts last one year. If you have questions, you’re not alone. Here are answers to some of the questions we’re hearing most.

Q: I already had a credit freeze in place when the new law took effect on September 21, 2018. Is it still in effect?


A: Yes, your credit freeze is still in effect. The next time you lift or replace the freeze, it will be free.

Q: If I paid for a freeze before September 21, do I get my money back?


A: No, the new law does not provide for that. But the next time you lift or place your freeze, it will be free.

Q: Does my credit score stay the same when a credit freeze is in effect?


A: No, your credit score can still change while a freeze is in effect. A freeze on your credit file does not freeze your credit score. For example, creditors can still report delinquent accounts and that may negatively affect your score. 

Q: Can I still use my credit card when a credit freeze is in place?


A: Yes, you can still use your credit card and other existing credit accounts. The freeze restricts access to your credit file. That makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. That’s because most creditors need to see your credit file before they approve a new account. It also means that, if you’re applying for a mortgage, student loan, new credit card, or other credit account, you’ll need to lift the freeze first.

Q: I already had a fraud alert in place when the law took effect on September 21, 2018. Do I need to request a new fraud alert if I want a year-long alert?


A: Yes, you should request a new fraud alert. You can make the request at one of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion), and it will alert the other two.

Q: How is placing a fraud alert different from placing a credit freeze?


A: To place a fraud alert, notify any one of the three credit bureaus and they must inform the other two. The fraud alert stays in place for one year. To place a credit freeze, contact each of the three credit bureaus individually. A freeze stays in place until you ask the credit bureau to temporarily lift it, or remove it altogether. If you opt for a temporary lift because you are applying for credit or a job, and you can find out which credit bureau the business will contact for your file, you can save some time by lifting the freeze only at that particular credit bureau. Otherwise, you’d need to ask all three credit bureaus. For more information, read Place a Fraud Alert and Credit Freeze FAQs.

Q: Where can I find the contact information for Equifax, Experian and TransUnion?


A: IdentityTheft.gov/#/CreditBureauContacts lists all of the URLs and phone numbers that you can use to exercise your rights under the new law.

Q: What can I do if I’m having trouble placing a fraud alert or credit freeze?


A: Call the credit bureaus first to try to straighten things out. Then, if you still think a credit bureau is not placing an alert or freeze properly, report it to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection at consumerfinance.gov/complaint or 855-411-2372.

11 Comments


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Alan P
October 04, 2018
I have had my freeze in place for years. How will I know when to reinitiate it?
FTC Staff
October 04, 2018

In reply to by Alan P

If you had a credit freeze in place when the new law took effect on September 21, 2018, that credit freeze is still in place. It will stay in place until you decide to lift it.

If you decide to lift the freeze, you have two options: (1) You can lift the freeze permanently. If you do that, it stays lifted until you place it again. (2) You can lift the freeze temporarily. If you do that, you choose the length of time you want it lifted (for example "five days"). Then, the credit reporting agency will put the freeze back on after the time ends.

Everyone in the country can use these two options when they have a credit freeze. You have to contact each of the three national credit bureaus separately to lift and resume its freeze on your credit files.

Enchanted forest
November 25, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

Pennsylvania only allows you to freeze your credit for seven years. Does this law still continue with new law stating freezes are free. Otherwise we will need to refreeze when that time comes.
diane Don't…
October 04, 2018
helpful information, thank you.
Danny Dent
October 04, 2018
Great information I had no idea what to do, now I do.
akeene
October 04, 2018
Few weeks back - I checked my credit at TRANS. - it showed I had 2 accounts and not much of a rating. I am 66 years old and have loads of credit as listed with the others. I called them to say they have been hacked. They said they clear out sometimes. Next day they had it back ! BUT it was a direct copy of another credit place. Same rating also. They have never had the same rating that I know of for the last 30 years. Some info on Trans. is now gone.
SCummings
October 04, 2018
I checked on the Experian website today. If you have a product currently with them they are not allowing you to change to the free product and place a freeze on your account. Why if the Law took place on September 21 2018. Do you have to contact them directly?
Don't use your…
October 19, 2018
I'm happy those darn payday loan places are coming under law! Its about time.. Now...what about Mail being stolen? Seems to happen a lot in the Russian River is MonteRio area..and PO is lax
missie1002
October 27, 2018
If I have credit freezes in place, a fraud alert would be redundant, wouldn't it?
ljaleighw
October 02, 2019
I have a freeze on my credit reports, but I have been unable to lift the freeze on Experian. I can't find my PIN any suggestions?