By Jim DeLuccia, communications manager, PICPA
On May 24, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. The law, which took effect Sept. 21, 2018, eases many financial regulations imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. However, one of the law’s key provisions grants consumers the ability to freeze their credit free of charge. According to Tami Noll Russo, CPA, CFP, CLU, of Noll Financial Services in Middletown, Pa., this is a huge benefit for families with children. She explains why families (and individuals) should jump at this opportunity in this brief interview I recently conducted with her.
Tami Noll Russo, CPA, CFP, CLU
Noll Financial Services
PICPA: What is new for consumers regarding credit freezes?
The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act not only removes the cost for all adults to freeze and thaw their credit through Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, but also allows you to freeze the credit of your children, who are under age 16. If your child has no credit file -- and I hope they do not -- the three credit bureaus are now required to create one and then freeze it. This is an outstanding security measure. It never made sense why parents were unable to protect their children’s Social Security numbers for so long. Too many children have applied for a college loan and then learned their credit was stolen a decade earlier.
Here are two good websites from the Federal Trade Commission:
Do you see this as a critical benefit for the public?
Making the process of a credit freeze free and letting us protect our children is an enormously positive benefit for the public. Bad people will always exist, but now we can take a few minutes and protect ourselves from financial predators.
And freezing your credit is easy. To freeze your credit you must log into each of the three independent credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- then save your passwords in a secure file. When you want to apply for any form of new credit, you will need to log in and unlock the account. Recently, I purchased a minivan. I told the dealer my credit was locked, and asked which credit bureau they used. Fortunately, I needed only to unlock one account for one week. It took me less than a minute to complete.
Keep in mind that freezing your credit will not prevent thieves from using your Social Security number to apply for a job, file fraudulent tax returns, steal health benefits, or apply for a driver’s license. We should all work under the assumption that our financial information is on the web somewhere. Freezing your credit takes a tremendous amount of worry away. It is not hard to complete, does not impact your credit score, and is easy to change.
Would you recommend all clients freeze their credit, or are there some that should not?
If you are in the middle of buying a house, I honestly think you could wait until you close. Also, some people don’t realize that prospective new employers will review the credit of job applicants. If you do this, remember to tell the potential employer that your credit is frozen, and ask if you should unlock it for them. Frankly, these actions only show how tremendously responsible you are.
The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act covers many different topics that the PICPA may choose to discuss later. But the availability of a child credit freeze alone makes me one very happy mother!