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In this day and age, our personal information is susceptible to be accessed by criminals who are working round the clock. If you’ve been holding out on getting a credit freeze because you’re not particularly worried about identity theft and did not want to pay the fees for doing so, now is the time to reconsider as it is now free in every U.S. state to freeze and unfreeze your credit file and that of your dependents.

What is a credit freeze?

A Credit freeze restricts access to your credit report and can prevent thieves from using your stolen information to open new accounts. It essentially blocks any potential creditors from being able to view or “pull” your credit file, unless you unfreeze your file beforehand. Preexisting creditors and debt collectors still have access.Freezing your credit is the best way to keep criminals from accessing your credit and opening accounts under your name, without your consent.

Freezing credit and lifting freezes are now free for all consumers, thanks to changes to the Dodd-Frank Act signed into law in May. Under the measure, consumers would be able to place and remove freezes on their credit files for free. Previously, states allowed the bureaus to charge fees for credit freezes which could cost up to $30 if requests are made on all three major credit-reporting agencies. Under this measure, freezes would only apply to checks made by creditors during applications for new credit.

Last year’s Equifax data breach affected nearly 148 million U.S. consumers leading to many rushing to freeze their credit. If you’re concerned your information might have been compromised in the breach or any other instances, putting a freeze on your credit is the best way to stay protected. A freeze has no effect on your credit score.

To file a freeze, you’ll need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus below online, by phone or by mail.

Equifax:
Call 800-349-9960 or go online.
https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/

Experian:
Call 888‑397‑3742 or go online.
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

TransUnion:
Call 888-909-8872 or go online.
https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze