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Credit Freezes will Soon Be Free: What it Means and Why it Matters for You

David Lord

If you've ever stepped into the ring with an identity thief, you are probably familiar with a credit freeze. Credit freezes are an incredibly helpful line of defense in protecting your credit, but like everything else that's good in life, these measures don't always come free.

Luckily, congress is taking steps to change that. Read on to learn about credit freezes, and how government mandates will make them free in the future.

What is a Credit Freeze?

A credit freeze is a nifty little tool that allows you to block any agency from checking your credit, making it impossible for imposters to open any line of credit under your name. If your credit has a freeze on it, you'll be notified if someone even attempts to open a line of credit using your information.

While there isn't a credit penalty associated with a credit freeze, it could set you back up to 20 bucks depending on what state you live in. That may seem like a small price to pay to protect your identity in times of panic, but for some who are already in debilitating financial situations, it can be a source of stress. This is especially true considering freezes need to be placed on each of the big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), which triples freeze costs for users.

Congress Takes Action

On May 22nd, 2018, Congress passed a larger bill that included the provision to make credit freezes free. This move was the result of mounting pressure by the public following the 2017 Equifax breach, which increased the need for credit freezes amongst the thousands of users who were impacted by the breach.

Beginning on September 21st of this year, users will be able to freeze and unfreeze their credit at their leisure. This will allow people to keep their credit frozen and only request a "thaw" when they plan to apply for a new loan, mortgage or credit card. Users will apply for freezes by going directly to each of the Big Three's websites. The credit reporting agencies will be required by law to implement the freezes within one business day, eliminating downtime in emergency credit situations.

The bill also allows parents to freeze credit on behalf of their kids, as long as they are under the age of 16. This might seem like overkill, but increasingly, minors are becoming an attractive target for identity thieves. Since teenagers and children have less credit –– and less reasons to use the limited credit they have –– their financial history isn't as tightly monitored, which leaves them more vulnerable to infiltration. This new legislation will allow their parents some much-appreciated peace of mind.

Making credit freezes free makes sense. Credit freezes can help protect us from identity theft and give us assurance that our financial information is safe, a security that should be accessible for all. If you're concerned about your credit after battling identity theft and you're curious about your options moving forward, Credit.com is here. Our experts are trained to help you find a solution that works for you. Even if you've hit rock bottom, we've got good news: you –– and your credit score –– can only go up from here! Let us help you make it happen.