For years the big three national credit bureaus made buckets of money from people who were concerned about thieves stealing their credit.
You could “Freeze” your credit report which made it unavailable to creditors, with certain limited exceptions. What this meant is that if someone stole your identity and tried to open a bank or credit account and that establishment tried to pull a credit report first, they would get a “no can do!” back from the 3 CRAs or Credit Reporting Agencies. A smart creditor would not open an account for the fraudster at that point because they could not see if the person had good or bad credit.
This worked pretty good but not perfect because there are a hundred smaller credit bureaus that some small companies used, but, for the most part, it worked.
The only problem was that each of the credit agencies charged you to freeze your credit – as much as $10 at each bureau, each time and they also charged you to remove the freeze, which you would need to do if you were financing a car or buying a cell phone or whatever.
A FEW states prohibited the CRAs from charging for freezes, but still it was a multi-million dollar revenue stream.
Until last month.
After the Equifax breach, there was a demand for free freezes but nothing happened. Then.
The problem is that the creditors want unrestricted access to your credit report and if you put a freeze on it, they can’t have it.
Until last month.
Now the CRAs cannot charge you to put on or take off a freeze.
What’s more, if you request a freeze online or on the phone, the agency has 24 hours to put the freeze in place.
And if you want to remove that freeze? They have 60 minutes to do that.
And if they don’t?
The FTC takes complaints at 855-411-2372.
There are a lot more details, all good for consumers, in the link at the end of the post.
Bottom line, finally the credit bureaus are doing a LITTLE something good for consumers.
Information for this post came from the FTC.