American Consumers should be both relieved and excited. A new consumer credit protection law has gone into force and protects all three hundred and twenty five million Americans.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act allows Americans to: “freeze their credit and place one-year fraud alerts for free.” This new law now allows consumers to do for free what used to cost upwards of $100 to accomplish.
What is a Social Security Number?
Social security numbers were originally created in the 1930s by the Roosevelt administration to deal with social security benefits. However over time it has become much more than that becoming both our pseudo national identification number and our credit file number.
Who Uses your Social Security Number?
This number is extremely important because with it, your full name, your date of birth, and your address – you (or a thief) can open up new lines of credit. Your social security number is needed when you open up new credit cards, buy a house, purchase life insurance, or even when you finance a new automobile. The number is required on numerous financial and healthcare forms. Recent headlines have revealed that millions of social security numbers have been stolen during computer hacks.
The Importance of Locking Down your Number:
Because your social security number is a way for just about anyone to use it to open new lines of credit, freezing it is your only true protection. Therefore it is imperative that all Americans consider freezing their credit. Since the process is now legally required to be free – all consumers should do this today.
How to Freeze your Credit File:
Step 1: Go to the FTC Identity Theft.gov site.
Step 2: Click on each of three bureaus websites on that page: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
Step 3: Follow each of their processes to Freeze your credit file.
Each of the bureaus will force you to set up a login and PIN code. Keep this information secure and secret. Once your file is frozen now one should be able to set up a new credit card or buy a house in your name.
How to Unlock or Unfreeze your Credit File:
To unfreeze your credit file, you will just have to return to these three sites, login, and unfreeze your file. This can happen in as little as five minutes.
Having fully completed the credit freeze your personal finance situation will be much more secure. If someone somehow gets a hold of your social security number it will be much more difficult for them to create havoc in your personal financial life. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act is truly a victory for all American consumers.
Scott W Johnson is the owner of Marindependent Insurance Services, a Marin County Based Independent Insurance Agency. Scott believes in consumer protections for his clients and all Americans.