Considering all the security breaches happening these days, it seems like a very wise idea, and it recently became an even better idea.
Once upon a time, freezing (and unfreezing) your credit report was a tedious process. It took days - or more- and in most states you had to pay $10 per credit reporting agency every time you froze or unfroze your report.
In May, that changed. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act was passed, unraveling some of the provisions of Dodd-Frank.
Among other things...
"(Sec. 301) The bill amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to increase the length of time a consumer reporting agency must include a fraud alert in a consumer's file. It also: (1) requires a consumer reporting agency to provide a consumer with free credit freezes and to notify a consumer of their availability, (2) establishes provisions related to the placement and removal of these freezes, (3) creates requirements related to the protection of the credit records of minors."
If you're interested in the other provisons, you'll find the overview at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2155. To find the full text, Google S2155 - Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.
The full text specifies that the credit bureaus must freeze your credit within one day of a phone or Internet request and must unfreeze within one hour of such request. Requests by mail must be honored within 3 days.
What that means to us:
We can protect our credit by freezing our credit reports, then unfreeze any time we decide to make application for credit - such as getting pre-approved for a home loan, buying a car, or applying for a new credit card.
Surely we all know an hour ahead of time - if not, we'd better rein in our impulse spending!
Under the new regulations, we as consumers can also opt to have our credit unfrozen for a specific period of time - for instance for the period of time necessary to access credit for a mortgage loan pre-approval.
Meanwhile, an identity thief who tries to use our information to open a new credit account will be out of luck.
The article I read stated that you can set up your freeze on line or over the phone. However, they do prefer that you do it on line.
My younger son doesn't like computers much and only has a tablet with him on the job, so I told him I'd get the phone numbers for him. I did it - but it took some serious digging, and in one case I had to "chat" with someone and ask for the number about 3 times.
Cyber theif Image courtesy of freedooom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Lock courtesy of Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net