Identity theft is a major American security concern: In 2017, it directly caused financial losses for 16.7 million consumers, according to Javelin. It indirectly affected tens of millions more who were lucky not to have their exposed information used fraudulently.
The Identity Theft Resource Center confirmed 864 organizations experiencing data breaches in 2018 as of Aug. 31, compromising more than 31 million records.
Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation making all credit-freeze actions free for all Americans. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law, and it went into effect Sept. 21, according to the ITRC. Individuals who wanted to unfreeze their reports but balked at the fees should consider doing so if they have big expenses in their immediate future. Those still worried about fraud, meanwhile, can check if their prospective lender considers alternative credit data.
"Data breaches have exposed over 31 million records thus far in 2018."
2017's identity theft rate prompted many to place security freezes on their credit reports with the Big Three credit bureaus (a prominent source of leaked information that year). Credible reported approximately one-third of American millennials took this precaution.
Under the terms of freeze agreements, no reporting agency can release a consumer's report to a lender, with the goal of preventing fraudulent accounts or loans being taken out in that person's name. At the same time, it reduces the likelihood of credit approval for major essential purchases like cars or homes, and setting up or removing a freeze incurred various fees from each reporting agency - until now.