Thanks to a new law, you’ll now be able to freeze and unfreeze your credit at no charge and also place a year-long fraud alert to prevent anyone from opening an account in your name.

A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report, which makes it difficult for scammers to open accounts in your name since nearly every bank or business will want to have a look at your credit report before opening a new account.

Previously, some firms charged to either freeze or unfreeze your account but now you’ll be able to contact any or all of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and request a freeze on your account. If you request online or over the phone, they must complete the freeze with one business day. Now, if you actually do want to open an account or be approved for a loan, you’ll need to request that they unfreeze the credit. Do it over the phone or online and they have an hour to lift the freeze. Do it via the mail and they have three days from the time they receive the request.

You can also request freezes for your children who are under 16. Make sure to request a freeze and not a lock. Locks have monthly fees.

You can also add a fraud alert that requires companies to contact you before opening an account. Previously, fraud alerts were good for 90 days. Now, they’ll last a full year.  If you’ve been the victim of ID theft, you can request a fraud alert for up to seven years.

Members of the military can also ask for duty alerts. For the period of  one year, you’ll be notified if anyone attempts to open an account in your name plus your name will be removed from marketing list so no one sends a credit card offer to your house when you aren’t there.

Contact information for the major credit reporting agencies is below:

Equifax
Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
800-685-1111

Experian
Experian.com/help
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

Transunion
TransUnion.com/credit-help
888-909-8872

If you think a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint online or by calling 855-411-2372. If you’re the victim of ID theft, click here for information on what to do next:  IdentityTheft.gov