Once upon a very odd and scary time, security and privacy conscious citizens had to fork over anywhere between $10-$50 to evil credit bureaus every time they needed to get a new mobile phone line, get a loan, or protect themselves from the repeated ineptitude of aforementioned evil credit bureaus. In this twisted world, the evil credit bureaus somehow managed to make an estimated $1.4 billion off the backs of the same citizens whose information they blundered away. This spooky age ended on September 21, 2018.
The 2018 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act contained several changes to remove pesky financial checks in the post-Great Recession Dodd-Frank bill. However, perhaps due to being victims of several credit bureau breaches themselves, the US Congress added regulations forcing each credit bureau to provide consumers:
- a website that allows for unlimited and free temporary or permanent credit freezes or thaws
- a website that allows consumers to place a 1 year fraud alert instead of just a 90 day fraud alert
For a quick refresher, with the recent Experian and Equifax breaches affecting the majority of the US population, you can already assume your personal information (including SSN, DOB, etc) are available to attackers on the internet somewhere. One of the few lines of defense that helps against them stealing your identity is to freeze your credit files so that they cannot open fake credit cards, or worse, in your name. Freezes and thaws are generally instant (within hours if done online), so the next time you need a (credit card, bank, internet provider, etc.) company to check your credit, simply ask them which credit bureau they use and how long the credit check will take. Then place a temporary security thaw specifically with that credit bureau.
For instructions on how to place a credit freeze or fraud alert with each major bureau, visit my original post. The post also includes a nifty google calendar reminder to automatically remind you to get credit reports and place fraud alerts during the year.
For instructions on how to organize and remember all those pesky security freeze PINs you get when you freeze your credit file, see this post.
UPDATE 10/12/2018: Since Experian has trouble with this 'whole security thing' and allowed your freeze PIN to be compromised, go unfreeze (not thaw) your credit with Experian and freeze it again if your PIN was created before 10/12/2018. I would suggest waiting a day or two after thawing your credit file before freezing it again.