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NOT IN THE MARKET TO BUY A HOME? NO WORRIES!

October 3, 2018  /  Misc.  /  Marti Reeder

If you live in the Covington, Kent, Maple Valley, or Renton areas you likely read our blog for tips on buying and selling real estate. We are, after all, well-known as one of the top real estate teams in this part of Washington State.

However, in the general scheme of things, buying and selling homes are only occasionally important activities in anyone’s life (unless you’re a real estate investor, or a “flipper”).

That’s why today we want to focus on an issue that impacts your life not only when you are trying to purchase home, but also on a day-to-day basis: your credit profile.

In an upcoming post, we’ll be talking about helpful ways to boost your credit score. Right now, I want to talk about keeping your credit profile safe. Specifically, “credit freezes”: what they are, and how you can use them to your advantage.

What’s a “credit freeze”, and why should I care?

 You may have seen the recent Seattle Times article discussing credit freezes, and an important deadline that’s coming up September 21, 2018.

Remember a year or so ago when the Equifax had an enormous data breach? I know I did! After hearing that almost 147 million people had their social security numbers, credit card information, driver’s license data and more stolen, I immediately became concerned about the safety of my data. Maybe you had the same experience.

After the data breach, consumers were told they could “freeze” their credit profile. Simply put, they could ask the credit reporting agencies to lock down their credit, thus making it very difficult for scammers to access their credit and/or open new credit accounts with stolen data.

The problem was, it also made it difficult for those same consumers to access their open credit when needed, if they wanted to apply for a loan. And it was costly – with reporting agencies charging fees to implement and to lift the freeze – and slow in terms of responsiveness, with bureaus taking days and weeks to unfreeze profiles.

What’s changed

Effective September 21, 2018 a new federal law requires credit reporting agencies to offer consumers a free new credit freeze.

Agencies receiving requests for freezing must implement them the next business day.

What happens if consumers need to deactivate their freeze in the event they’re trying to obtain new credit? When requested to lift the freeze, agencies must do so within one hour.

And parents can request credit freezes on behalf of their minor children. Child identity theft is a significant – and growing – problem, and this new law will allow parents to help keep their child’s credit profile secure.

Another benefit of the new law is the extension of time for fraud alerts. Previously having a maximum 90-day duration, these alerts now last one year and can be renewed by the consumer for up to seven years.

What’s next

If you’re concerned about the safety of your credit profile, contact the big three credit reporting agencies after September 21st, and ask them to place a freeze on your credit. To make it simple to do that, we’ve included their contact information below.

Equifax…………………………………….. 1-800-685-1111

TransUnion……………………………… 1-888-909-8872

Experian………………………………….. 1-888-397-3742

 

Need more information?

We love the site maintained by the State of Washington for consumer financial education. There’s great information there – check it out!

And, as always, please let us know if you have any questions or if we can help in any way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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