A recent change in legislation allows for consumers to place a security freeze or fraud alert on their credit file—for free. At Vector, we had an internal discussion about how the new law (Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act) could affect our clients. What follows are notes from our discovery session, the notice from congress and at the end some general question and answer information.
Stated within the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act:
Consumers Have The Right To Obtain A Security Freeze
You have a right to place a ‘security freeze’ on your credit report, which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing information in your credit report without your express authorization. The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. Keep in mind that using a security freeze on your credit report may delay or interfere with the timely approval of any future inquiries you make regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, or any other account involving the extension of credit.
As an alternative to a security freeze, you have the right to place an initial or extended fraud alert on your credit file at no cost. An initial fraud alert is a 1-year alert that is placed on a consumer’s credit file. Upon seeing a fraud alert display on a consumer’s credit file, a business is required to take steps to verify the consumer’s identity before extending new credit.
If you have been a victim of identity theft you are entitled to an extended fraud alert, which is a fraud alert lasting 7 years.
See title III, section 301 for more details.
Q & A – Discovery Session with Vector Wealth Management
These are some of the questions we were asking during a company discussion on the new credit freeze legislation. Please reach out to your Vector advisor if you have questions about protecting your credit file.
Q: When should I freeze or place a fraud alert on my credit file?
A: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says, “If you’re concerned about identity theft, those reported mega-data breaches, or someone gaining access to your credit report without your permission, you might consider placing a credit freeze on your report.”
Q: How much does this cost?
A: Nothing. Zero. Zilch. The new legislation makes placing, lifting and removing credit freezes free across the USA.
Q: What’s the difference between a freeze and a fraud alert?
A: The FTC distinguishes a freeze from a fraud alert by saying a credit freeze locks down your credit. Whereas, a fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity.
Q: The FTC makes it sound like nearly everyone should be asking for these protections. So how do I do it?
A: Each of the nationwide credit reporting companies will need to be notified. You’ll supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.
Equifax — 1-800-349-9960
Experian — 1‑888‑397‑3742
TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872
Q: How long does it take for my Credit Freeze (or lift) to take affect?
A: The consumer credit reporting companies have 24 hours to fulfill the request if requested over the phone or online, and three business days if the request is by mail.
Q: Can I temporarily thaw my credit freeze?
A: Yes. Let’s say that you are applying for a car loan or applying to a job and they need to run your credit. The FTC suggests that consumers should find out which credit reporting company the credit requestor is using and request a temporary lift with that specific reporting company. Contact the reporting company for details: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
Q: Now that I’ve locked down my credit and reduced the risk of someone falsely opening a new line of credit under my name, what now?
A: Keep up on changes to your credit score. This free service is recommended by the FTC: https://www.annualcreditreport.com and allows for a report from each credit reporting company per year.
And as always, if you have questions please do not hesitate to call or email your advisor.
Vector Wealth Management: 612-378-7560.
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