A new state law (HB 2342) in Hawaii gives residents the ability to freeze their credit files for free. The new law also applies to children under the age of 16. (To learn more about freezing your child's credit, see Should I Freeze My Child's Credit?)
What's a credit freeze and why should I use one? If you're the victim of identity theft or your personal information was stolen in a data breach, placing a freeze on your credit file with each of the three major credit reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—is normally the best way to prevent a thief from opening up new accounts in your name.
Once you put a freeze on your file, anyone who attempts to pull your credit report will get a message that the file is frozen rather than seeing your credit information. Because most creditors review a person's credit report before giving a new loan or opening a new credit account, a freeze will stop an identity thief from getting credit in your name because it can't view the report. (To get a checklist of the recovery steps you should take if your identity has been stolen, see Stolen Identity? Take These Recovery Steps.)
How much did it previously cost to freeze, lift, or unfreeze a credit file? State laws often require people to pay a fee of between $2 and $10 each time they place, temporarily lift, or remove a credit freeze. In Hawaii, consumer reporting agencies used to be able to charge most people $5 each time they froze, lifted, or unfroze their credit reports. Now, however, it's free under Hawaii law.
Coming soon: Federal law will make credit freezes free for everybody. Under a new federal law, credit freezes will be free for everyone—no matter what state you live in—as of September 21, 2018.
Effective date: July 1, 2018