The office of Chris Carr, Attorney General of Georgia, has issued an important consumer alert that can potentially aid Georgia citizens in protecting their credit, especially in light of the repeated failures of governmental agencies and private companies in protecting data from breaches:
This year, Governor Deal signed Senate Bill 376, allowing Georgians to freeze and thaw their credit reports free of charge beginning July 1, 2018.
“A credit freeze can be a powerful and pro-active weapon against identity theft,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We hope this new law will encourage more Georgians to use this simple tool to protect themselves from fraud.”
When a freeze is in place, credit reporting agencies cannot release consumers’ credit reports or credit scores unless consumers first remove the freeze by providing a PIN or password. Since lenders and creditors rely on access to consumers’ credit files to determine their creditworthiness, denying such access through a freeze makes it very difficult for an identity thief to open a new credit account or get a loan in a victim’s name.
To place a credit freeze on your file, you must contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies:
There are other specialized credit reporting agencies, one of which is the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE), which maintains data reported by some telecommunication, pay TV and utility service providers. If you wish to place or remove a security freeze on your NCTUE account, call 1-866-349-5355 or visit www.exchangeservicecenter.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp.
A credit freeze does not affect your existing credit in any way. However, if you want to apply for a new loan or credit card, you will need to contact the credit reporting agencies to have the freeze temporarily lifted or thawed.
Please note that a new federal law will go into effect September 21, 2018 that will make credit freezes free nationwide.