Update: Credit Freeze Now Free in All States
In the wake of last year’s Equifax data breach, a new federal law will allow consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit for free with all major credit bureaus. Previously, credit freezes and unfreezes cost consumers anywhere between $3 and $12 each. A credit freeze prevents lenders from pulling a credit report, thus preventing criminals from taking out new lines of credit with a stolen identity.
The new law will also extend the length of a “fraud alert” on your credit report from 90 days to one year. Fraud alerts tell lenders and banks that your data may have been compromised so they take this information into account when evaluating your creditworthiness. Consumers with a fraud alert on their credit report may have to take extra steps to prove their identity before getting approved for a loan or line of credit.
Last year, more than 148 million consumers had their personal data exposed because of an Equifax data breach. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the three credit reporting agencies lenders and banks use to assess borrowers’ ability to repay loans and lines of credit. Credit fraud is especially dangerous because it can take years to repair damaged credit. Consumers should stay alert
If you are suspicious of fraudulent activity on your credit report, you will have to visit each credit reporting bureau’s website individually and locate the “Security Freeze” link. You can also call the bureaus or submit your request in writing.
For Equifax: Visit this link
For Experian: Visit this link
For TransUnion: Visit this link
You’ll be prompted to enter your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to confirm your identity. Then, select the security freeze option. A PIN number will be generated, and you’ll need to enter this when you choose to unfreeze your account.
If you would like a “fraud alert” added to your account, you will have to visit each credit reporting bureau individually or call.
For Equifax: Visit this link or call 1-888-836-6351
Experian: Visit this link or call 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: Visit this link or call 1-800-680-7289
Monitoring your credit report is always important, but especially when you are in the market for a new home. Most mortgage lenders suggest you start credit repair six months to a year before you start the mortgage financing process. If you are looking for a new home and have any questions about your credit health, meet with a mortgage loan officer.
Sources: Credit Karma, USA Today