September 24, 2018

Consumers May Place 1-Year Fraud Alert & Freeze on Credit Reports Free of Charge

Consumers May Place 1-Year Fraud Alert & Freeze on Credit Reports Free of Charge

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is alerting New Yorkers that pursuant to changes in Federal Consumer Protection law, consumers may now place a one-year fraud alert and security freeze on their credit reports with all three reporting credit bureaus free of charge.

To place a fraud alert, consumers need only contact one of the three credit bureaus, which will notify the other two bureaus.

Previously, fraud alerts were effective for only 90 days. As of September 21, 2018, fraud alerts will now be effective for one year.

“We urge New Yorkers to take advantage of this free service so that they are better-armed against fraud,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “By proactively freezing credit for themselves and their children, consumers will be in more control of their financial freedom and how their information is used.”

Free credit freezes

A credit freeze will restrict access to a consumer’s credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in a consumer’s name. The consumer is issued a unique PIN to use each time they wish to freeze and unfreeze their account to apply for new credit.

Whether consumers ask for a freeze online or by phone, the credit bureau must put the freeze in place within one business day. When consumers request to lift the freeze by phone or online, the credit bureaus must take that action within one hour. If consumers make these requests by mail, the agency must place or lift the freeze within three business days.

Previously, credit freezes involved applicable fees, based on state laws. It is now free to freeze and unfreeze a credit file throughout the country.

Free child credit freezes

Consumers may also freeze children’s (under 16 years-of-age) credit files free of charge until they are old enough to use credit.

Year-long fraud alerts

A fraud alert notifies businesses that run consumer credit reports that they should check with the consumer before opening a new account.

The fraud alerts and security freeze will be free and identity theft victims are entitled to an extended fraud alert for seven years.

For more information, consumers may call the Division of Consumer Protection’s Consumer Assistance Hotline at (518) 474-8583 or (800) 697-1220.

More information about the federal changes may be found here.