Bismarck – It’s been over a year since the massive Equifax data breach. Since then, consumers have been able to freeze their credit files for a fee. But that’s about to change.
Last summer it was revealed that Equifax, one of the nations largest credit reporting agencies, had the personal data of over 145 million Americans stolen in one of the largest cyber attacks in US history.
Stolen were social security numbers…drivers license numbers, birth dates and addresses. Equifax also admitted that over 200,000 people also had credit card credentials taken in the attack.
In response to the attack, the three major credit bureau’s allowed consumers to put a freeze on their credit files in the hopes of preventing future attacks…but those freezes cam with a fee that varied by state…for North Dakotans, the fee was $5 each time to you froze and unfroze your credit, but this Friday…the fees will be eliminated thanks in part to financial legislation introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp and signed into law by President Trump earlier this year.
Benjamin Brant of Capital City Wealth Management tells me freezing your credit should be a no-brainer for consumers.
“Something along the lines of half of all Americans have their information out there, so if you don’t plan on using your credit sometime in the next few months, you should freeze your credit” Said Brandt.
A recent AARP survey of 2,000 adults revealed that only 14-percent have frozen their files, a number that was surprising to the North Dakota Attorney Generals Office…
“It does surprise me a little bit because it’s not too difficult to do and because I think it is so effective, but I think consumers often are just used to the process as it is” Said Grossman.
He adds it’s a common misconception to think freezing your credit is a waste of time because you have poor credit or little disposable income.
Now if you do freeze your credit and later need to access credit–for a car or student loan or a mortgage–you have to UNFREEZE or thaw your records, which can take a few days.
Also, for the freeze to be completely effective, you’re reminded to freeze your credit will all three major bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
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