Freezing credit can protect consumers’ identity from theft.
The move is in response to the huge breach at the credit reporting agency Equifax, where more than 146 million Americans’ personal information had been hacked and stolen.
The House passed the provision, which was added in a broader bill, to roll back Dodd-Frank banking regulations. The bill is headed to President Donald Trump for his approval.
A credit report freeze means the credit rating agency cannot give out your personal information; effective in keeping people from getting a loan or credit card in your name. When you need credit, you have to lift the freeze to do so.
A freeze goes further by informing you of suspicious activity.
However, a credit freeze means paying a fee to put one in place and lifting it, which can cost between $2 and $10 – state dependent. There are some states where a credit freeze is already free. The fee must be paid at all three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – which had to the overall cost.
With this new legislation, it would be free to place, lift and permanently get rid of freezes. It would also demand consumer rating companies fulfill the request within one day when asked for by phone or online. If requested by mail, it must be done within three business days.
If Trump approves the measure, the changes will go into effect in approximately four months.
When a freeze is placed, the bureaus provide you with a PIN that must be used to place or take off the freeze. There is no charge for victims of identity fraud.
After Equifax was breached, the agency permitted anyone to get a freeze for free until June 2018.