Americans will soon have the right to freeze their credit files free of charge.
On May 24, President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which has received attention for loosening restrictions placed on banks after the financial crisis. The legislation, however, also made some changes to the federal law dictating consumer credit rules.
One helpful change, which consumer advocates had been seeking for years, will allow consumers to “freeze” their credit files at the three major credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — without charge. Consumers can also “thaw” their files, temporarily or permanently, without a fee.
“It’s a good thing,” said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America.
Credit experts often recommend a credit freeze, also called a security freeze, as a way to protect personal information from credit fraud and identity theft. A freeze means that no one can get access to your credit files to fraudulently open a new account in your name. It also means that you can’t apply for new credit, either, unless you lift the freeze using a special personal identification number.