Blog: Finally—Free Credit Freezes!

Finally—Free Credit Freezes!

With the rise of data breaches in the news lately, you might be overwhelmed with decisions on how to best protect yourself from identity theft or other types of fraud.  While there are some great consumer protection laws in place for fraud on your debit or credit card, until recently, there hasn’t been much protection specific to unauthorized use of your social security number.  This can lead to thieves opening accounts or loans in your name, leaving you responsible for the debt.

Effective September 21, 2018, free credit freezes are now available to everyone in the United States.  While the concept of a credit freeze is not new, previously, depending on your state of residence, placing a freeze on your credit report, or lifting an existing freeze could carry a fee of up to $10 per freeze or lift, unless you had been a victim of identity theft.  By then, it may be too late.  Thanks to new legislation, this security benefit is now available to all U.S. consumers, free of charge.

Freezing your credit is a great step
toward preventing identity theft
for you and your family."
 

Pros & Cons of a Credit Freeze

Placing a freeze does not affect your credit score.  A credit freeze essentially restricts access to your credit report from potential creditors, preventing new accounts from being opened in your name.  This is a great way to protect yourself from many forms identity theft.

One “con” to the credit freeze is that you will be required to provide a PIN or password to unfreeze your account in the event you wish to apply for credit. Overall, this is a minor hurdle when taking into consideration the protection this new law provides for consumers.

 

Benefits to Elderly & Children

With this protection now offered for free, it is also a great time to discuss this with family members who may be vulnerable to identity theft. Elderly consumers may not check their credit as frequently and therefore may not be aware if they become a victim. The new law also allows those serving fiduciary roles as guardians, conservators, or powers of attorney to place a freeze on behalf of a principal or ward as well. 

Children, on a similar token, also can be an attractive target. According to a 2018 study by Javelin Straategy and Research*, “Over 1 million children were victims of identity fraud last year."*Forbes.com, 3 Reasons Why You Should Freeze Your Child’s Credit


Freezing your credit is a great step toward preventing identity theft for you and your family. For more ways to protect yourself from identity theft, or unauthorized activity, reach out to me at kapfelbeck@rivervalleybank.com. For more information specifically on credit freezes or on how to place one, visit FTC.gov.



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Karen Apfelbeck
Fraud Risk Manager
River Valley Bank
327 N. 17th Avenue
Wausau, WI 54401
Our River Valley Customer Experience Center can help answer any questions or concerns on I.D. theft—or walk you through the preventive measures.
 
We believe in your safety and security. Contact us at info@rivervalleybank.com or call 888-842-0221.
 
Also please review our Customer Security page with Tips & Tricks for preventing fraud.