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FOX43 Finds Out: New Credit Laws

More than 100 million people were told their personal information like their social security number, birthday and address had all been compromised.

They were told to freeze their credit.

It used to be credit bureaus charged a fee to freeze your credit and another fee to lift the freeze for say, a new mortgage or a car loan.

Here in Pennsylvania, that cost $10 per credit bureau and $30 for all three of the majors.

A new federal law eliminates that.

"It is now free. It's free to lock down your credit. It's free to thaw your credit. Under the new law, the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Transunion and Experian - had to create new webpages for requesting fraud alerts and credit freezes," said Michelle Reinen with the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

we found them easy on their websites.

"Given the number of data breaches cyber security thefts people are obviously very concerned about their credit," said  Jennifer Schilling, head of a credit union in Wisconsin.

She advocated for the changes.

"We'll work with our members to show them how to go to each of their credit bureaus to put a freeze on their credit," said Schilling.

Parents can also freeze a credit file for a child under 16.

Reinen said, "It also has a provision if you are guardian of a vulnerable individual that you can lock down that credit as well."

Even with a freeze, it's not possible to cut off thieves entirely, but it does make their crimes more difficult to pull off.

The new law, which took effect September 21st, also protects those serving our country.

All active-duty service members get free credit monitoring.The law also makes changes to fraud alerts.

That tells businesses that check your credit to check with you before opening a new account.

The alerts will now last one year, instead of 90 days.

They are still free and identity theft victims are still able to get them for 7 years.

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