In the wake of numerous recent security breaches, including the substantial Equifax data breach in 2017, several states introduced legislation to make it easier for consumers to protect their credit information. Two of those states, Idaho and Washington, have now passed new credit consumer protection legislation in 2018.
Placing a freeze on your credit report keeps lenders from accessing your credit. Your profile cannot be viewed by a lender until you lift the freeze. Restricting credit access makes it more difficult for someone to open a new account in your name. However, it is standard practice for all three bureaus to charge a fee to freeze a credit profile or to lift that security freeze if the applicant wishes to allow access to a lender. Idaho and Washington now have legislation limiting or prohibiting those fees, making credit freezes more affordable to consumers.
Governor Butch Otter (Idaho) signed Senate Bill 1265 into law on 3/20/18. Beginning in July 2018, the law allows Idahoans to freeze and unfreeze their credit for free once a year. Any subsequent placement or lift of a credit freeze within a 12-month period is not to exceed $6.00. Credit bureaus are allowed to charge up to $10 if the consumer loses their security PIN or access information and requests the bureau reissue that information to them.
Idaho Senate Bill 1265 also prohibits a credit freeze fee for any consumer who is a victim of identity theft and can provide proper documentation to the credit bureau proving the identity theft was reported to the authorities.
In Washington state, Governor Inslee signed bill ESB 6018 on 3/16/2018. This legislation is effective June 7, 2018 and removes the fees associated with consumers placing or requesting a credit report security freeze or assigning a unique PIN.
Credit bureaus are required by federal law to provide one free credit report per year to consumers, if requested, through AnnualCreditReport.com. Consumers are encouraged to utilize credit fraud alerts as well, which can be placed for free and may help keep consumers advised of potential credit risk.
You can find more information about credit freezes here: MyScreeningReport.com - What You Should Know if You’re Considering a Credit Freeze