Starting Friday, you can protect your money from cyber criminals by freezing your credit at no cost.
The new federal law, signed by President Trump, now requires credit bureaus to offer free credit freezes.
This comes after a huge data breach at Equifax which compromised consumers personal information including Social Security numbers.
A credit freeze is when one or all of the three major credit agencies block access from anybody, including you, from accessing your credit reports or your credit score.
This makes it harder for criminals to use your personal information to open fraudulent new accounts or borrow money in your name.
“Once somebody has your information and they can access any of the three credit bureaus and they get approved they can open up a credit line, take a loan, get plastic surgery buy a Mercedes, buy diamonds. It’s important to know that you may not know what’s going on behind your back,” said Jon Ulin, a certified financial planner in Boca Raton.
Ulin said if you freeze your credit, the bureaus will not provide information to lenders.
Under the new law, credit bureaus will also be required to allow parents to create and freeze credit files for their children under 16 years old to prevent their identities from being stolen.
“Somebody graduates from college, they apply for a job and there a lot of bad things on the record, might not get that job may not be able to get a car loan and not be able to rent your first apartment,” said Ulin.
Experts say in order for the freeze to work, you have to notify all three credit bureaus. The Federal Trade Commission said they will provide links to each bureaus freeze website at identitytheft.gov.
You can also contact the bureaus directly:
For TransUnion visit TransUnion.com/credit-freeze. The company also has a free-freeze mobile app called myTransUnion, available at the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
For Equifax visit https://www.Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/ or call its automated line at 1-800-685-1111.
For Experian visit www.Experian.com/freeze or call 1-888-397-3742.