Forget what you think you know about the costs of freezing your credit report. Starting September 2018, some changes are coming, changes aimed at making it easier for Americans to get proactive about protecting their personal credit reports. A new federal law requires credit-reporting giants Equifax, Experian, and Transunion to “freeze” or “thaw” a consumer’s credit report free of charge – for everyone, at anytime.
The new law is officially called the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Here’s what you need to know about how it affects you and your credit report.
What Has Changed
Previously, depending on which state you lived in, you may have faced fees totaling up to as much as $30 in order to have a freeze placed by all three agencies. Then, when the time came to “thaw” the freeze because you needed to apply for a loan, for rental housing, or even for a job, boom: You could have gotten hit with those same fees all over again.
Under the new law, it will be free to freeze or unfreeze your credit. There will be no charge to do so from any of the three agencies, in any part of the United States. When lifting the freeze, it will not matter whether you choose to make the “thaw” temporary or permanent – you will not be charged either way.
What This Means for You
If you have any suspicion that your credit information may have been compromised, don’t wait – contact Equifax, Experian, and Transunion immediately to freeze your credit file.
Some more cautious credit experts also recommend keeping a freeze on your file regardless, as long as you don’t foresee needing a credit application or background check in the near future. It’s up to you to decide whether a preemptive freeze works for your current lifestyle.
Agencies Must Place or Lift Freezes in A Timely Manner
The new legislation also mandates time frames for responses to freeze or thaw requests. If you request a freeze on your credit online or over the phone, the freeze must take effect within one business day. If you request a freeze by mail, it must be placed within three business days. If you need to have a freeze lifted, making your request online or over the phone will get your account thawed within one hour. Thaw requests made by mail can take up to three business days.
What This Means for You
Keep these time frames in mind if your credit is frozen so you can plan ahead when you know you will need to have a report pulled, whether for a loan or for a background check.