(WJBK) - A year ago this month is when the Equifax credit breach happened, unlocking almost half of American's personal information. Now a new law is going into effect this week to make it easier to protect yourself - and the credit reporting agencies have to pick up the tab.
"We have almost 2,500 different data points that are compromised as well and over 800 passwords all tied back to this company," said David Derigiotis, a cyber-risk expert with Burns & Wilcox.
The problem is still there.
"If you have someone that's logging into the system at work on the corporate network with this password but then they are also using the same password for other places, the company is going to end up with a data breach when it falls into the wrong hands," Derigiotis said.
The wrong hands, are still reaching and not enough of the good guys are using their hands to fight it off. And it's as simple as logging on and freezing your credit report.
Starting this Friday, you can do it for free on Experian, Equifax and Transunion, which are the three credit reporting agencies out there. They used to charge $10 every time. But thanks to a new law, it won't cost you a penny.
"A security freeze locks down your credit file so that somebody--a lender or a creditor is not able to access it to determine whether or not they want to make a loan in your name. This is particularly important if somebody is filing or applying for credit that's in your name but it's not you. So a freeze locks it down completely so that the lender is not able to view your credit history to make a loan," Derigiotis said.
The new law also requires the three companies to freeze and unfreeze your credit history quickly.
"You can either do it by phone, mail, or online. If you do by online or by phone, they have to lift the freeze within one hour," Derigiotis said.
This all comes after last fall's Equifax data breach when 150 million Americans' credit was compromised.
"Just because identity theft has not happened yet, it's just a matter of time before somebody gets around to us. It's a numbers game until somebody until our number comes up, then we'll have to experience it. So it's better to take advantage of this and reduce the pain points now before," Derigiotis said.
The new law also does something else.
"It extends the fraud alerts from 90 days to a full year. So what that does is it red flags your credit report so if somebody does apply for credit in your name they have to verify with you whatever method you gave them ... They have to reach out to verify your identity," Derigiotis said.
Once you ask them to freeze your credit they will mail you a pin that you will use to unfreeze it.