In addition to rolling back post-2008 crisis financial rules, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act signed by President Trump last month contained an important provision for consumers looking to protect their credit.
In the wake of the Equifax data theft last year, one option for at-risk consumers was to freeze their credit, blocking bad actors who might try to open up a line of credit in their name. The new law allows consumers to freeze their credit files at the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) free of charge. The law also ensures that consumers are able to then “thaw” their credit, necessary to apply for a new line of credit, also for free. The law doesn’t take effect until September of this year, but it appears that all three credit agencies are already offering credit freezes and unfreezes free of charge.
Although it removes cost barriers to freezing credit, the legislation does not make it simpler to freeze or unfreeze credit. Consumers must still go through the process of freezing their credit, and remember a separate pin to request a credit thaw, with each of the three credit agencies individually.
For more information on freezing your credit, check out Glen Goland, JD, CFP®’s detailed rundown of the process and steps involved here.