The effective date of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, passed by Congress in May is almost upon us and with it will come the ability of consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit reports for free. Come September 21st you will be able to freeze and unfreeze your credit at each of the major credit reporting bureaus at no cost. The law also provides the first national law to protect children from identity theft. On September 21st parents will be able to create and freeze credit reports for their minor children. Child identity theft has become a major problem and until now only 29 states permitted the establishing and freezing of credit reports for children.
The very best thing you can do to protect yourself from many forms of identity theft is to put a credit freeze on your credit report at each of the three major credit reporting agencies.  While in the wake of last year’s massive data breach at Equifax, many Americans froze their credit at each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, a recent study done by Consumer Reports indicates that 52% of people aware of the Equifax data breach have not frozen their credit.
For more information about credit freezes check out this article I wrote for the Saturday Evening Post which described credit freezes in detail.
To get started, it’s best to first understand the laws and fees governing credit freezes in your state. Here is a link to a listing of the all of the state laws.
To get the maximum protection from identity theft, it is important to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Here are links to each of them with instructions about how to get a credit freeze:
Once you have frozen your credit, be sure to keep the PIN and information on how to unfreeze your credit report in a safe place.
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