New Florida Law Allows You to Freeze Your Credit Report to Prevent Identity Theft

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A new law that takes effect this month will make it tougher for identity thieves to ruin your good name. The law allows you to freeze your credit report so only you have access to it.

Identity theft costs American consumers and businesses upwards of $40 billion a year. A new law in Florida aims to make things a little tougher on the bad guys by allowing you to freeze your credit report.

Liz Compton with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the law is a great new tool to help protect your family finances.

“What it does is prevent unknown people who may have secured some of your private information from trying to access it and become you, basically, and make major purchases in your name.”

The way the law works is you notify the consumer reporting agency by certified mail that you want your credit report frozen. The agency can charge you up to 10 bucks to do so. But then only you will be able to un-freeze the report.

Anyone else who tries to access your credit information to take out a credit card or a bank loan will be shut out. Freezing your credit might be a bit time-consuming, and there are fees to pay, but consumer advocates argue it may be worth it.

Compton says, “It only takes a few days to have your credit ruined. It can take years to undo the damage, even though you’ve done nothing wrong.”

The only down-side is you have to give a few days’ notice to un-freeze your credit report, which would make it harder to take advantage of those act-now credit card offers. But that may not be a bad thing either.

The new law lets people over the age of 65 place or remove a security freeze on their credit report for free.

There are three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

You can get a free copy of your credit report by going to the government-sanctioned website, which also has contact information for the three credit reporting companies if you wish to freeze your credit report.