A new law has taken effect to help you freeze your credit for free in an attempt to keep scammers from getting your personal information and taking out credit in your name.
Scott Adair of the New York State Society of CPA’s discussed the new law and how to take advantage of it Monday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“Effectively, it was to help prevent identity theft, from the perspective of every time you request a credit application, you wind up having to have the lender pull a credit report on you,” Adair said. “By freezing that, it doesn’t allow them access to that credit report and would effectively deny you the credit at that point in time.”
The process to freeze your credit requires a few steps. “There’s three major credit-reporting agencies,” Adair explained. “You need to contact each one of them. You can do that online or via the phone. You’ll be asked to supply some information — name, Social Security number and your address — to be able to start that process.”
He continued, “The next step after that, and this is an important one, you’ll need to establish a ‘PIN’ for each of those freezes, and you’ll need to be able to access that PIN when you want to un-freeze your credit report.”
Adair said one provision of the law that must be considered is the length of time your credit is under scrutiny. “It used to be when you had potential identity theft, you had a 90 day report on your credit rating. Now it’s up to one year, which identifies to the potential lender that they may want to ask additional questions before approving the application.”
These changes are aimed at stopping scammers in their tracks, and avoiding identity theft, but freezing your credit can be limiting as well. “One of the drawbacks would be making sure that you have access to that PIN number so you can quickly, or when you’re not necessarily thinking about applying for credit, have the ability to un-freeze that report so a lender doesn’t deny you inadvertently because you’ve frozen your credit report,” noted Adair.
He concluded that you should make sure that you’re monitoring your credit reports on an annual basis, if not more often.
For more information about ‘Smart Money’ decision, visit the New York State Society of CPA’s website, nysscpa.org/getmoneysmart.