credit & debt

Free Credit Report Freezes

A new federal law will soon allow everyone to freeze -- and thaw -- their credit report free. A freeze can deter identity theft.

Question: I'd like to freeze my credit record to protect against identity theft. I heard that Congress recently passed a law making credit freezes free. When can I get my free freeze?

Answer: Congress just passed a law that will prohibit the three big credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—from charging a fee to place or lift a credit freeze. The free freezes will be available throughout the country this fall; the credit bureaus have until September 21, 2018, to implement the new law. A credit freeze prevents new creditors from reviewing your credit report, making it harder for identity thieves to take out credit in your name.

Until the new law goes into effect, the cost to freeze your credit record varies by state. In many states, each credit bureau charges $5 to $10 to freeze your credit record and may charge a similar fee to lift the freeze if you're applying for a loan. (To hinder ID thieves, you need to freeze your record at all three credit bureaus.)

But several states recently passed laws to eliminate credit-freeze fees. You can place a free credit freeze in Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Washington, D.C. (You may need to pay a fee to lift the freeze in some of these states.) By the end of June, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington state will also be offering free credit freezes.

Go to www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com to initiate the freeze and find out more about the cost and procedures. Equifax, which experienced a massive data breach last year, is offering free freezes for all consumers until June 30.

Also check with your state attorney general's office or consumer protection bureau to find out whether your state offers additional consumer protections on security freezes beyond what the federal law provides.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
The 12 Best Tech Stocks to Buy for 2022
tech stocks

The 12 Best Tech Stocks to Buy for 2022

The best tech-sector picks for the year to come include plays on some of the most exciting emergent technologies, as well as several old-guard mega-ca…
January 3, 2022
How to Know When You Can Retire
retirement

How to Know When You Can Retire

You’ve scrimped and saved, but are you really ready to retire? Here are some helpful calculations that could help you decide whether you can actually …
January 5, 2022

Recommended

What to Do When You Can’t Pay Holiday Debt
Budgeting

What to Do When You Can’t Pay Holiday Debt

More Americans borrowed money to pay for holiday purchases and now the bill is due. Balance transfer cards offer a reprieve.
January 19, 2022
Freeze Your Credit in 3 Steps
credit & debt

Freeze Your Credit in 3 Steps

Freezing your accounts at the three major credit bureaus is the best way to prevent thieves from opening new credit accounts in your name.
January 10, 2022
Good Marriage, Bad Credit
Starting a Family

Good Marriage, Bad Credit

Credit reports aren’t merged for married couples, but their individual records affect joint loans.
December 21, 2021
Kiplinger’s Best Firms for Customer Service: Banks, Credit Cards and More
banking

Kiplinger’s Best Firms for Customer Service: Banks, Credit Cards and More

We evaluated major banks, credit card issuers, mortgage lenders, and home and auto insurers to see how well they treat their clients.
December 21, 2021