This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

If you’re like me, the Equifax data breach drove you straight to your computer to search “how to freeze my credit.” Then, you discovered annoying news: To prevent thieves from opening new credit cards or mortgages in your name, you most likely had to use one of your existing credit cards to pay around $10 for each freeze. Equifax, knowing it had fumbled the confidential information of nearly half the country, waived the fee, but depending on the state you live in, a price tag between $2 and $10 was attached to freezing credit at Experian and TransUnion.

Soon enough, you might be able to wave goodbye to any of those fees. The Senate is debating S.2155, a bill that includes a provision to remove any consumer costs when freezing and unfreezing credit. The bill, unlike almost anything in Congress, has support from both sides of the aisle. Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia, are co-sponsors of the legislation. While eliminating fees for safeguarding credit is a positive step for consumers, some critics have voiced concerns that the bill contains changes that could mark a return to the risky lending that paved the way to the financial crisis of 2008.

“The bill still puts our economy at risk by removing important bank-regulating tools that can rein in risky practices taken by giant and big banks,” Mike Litt, consumer program director at U.S. PIRG, a public advocacy group, wrote in a statement on the bill. “For that matter, it may encourage community banks to undertake those risky practices.”

How Many People Are Actually Worried About Their Credit?

Setting aside questions of whether the bill is too friendly to the banking industry, the ability to manage your credit with no additional cost would be good news for anyone who is worried about their information floating around on the black market. However, recent studies have shown that data breaches and identity thieves aren’t exactly keeping Americans up at night. A survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by CreditCards.com shortly after the initial Equifax breach showed that only about 25 percent of people had bothered to check their credit scores or their credit reports. In fact, 30 percent of people hadn’t even heard about the breach. Another survey conducted by CreditSesame.com found that 86 percent of respondents had opted to do nothing after the Equifax debacle.

Studying Your Existing Accounts Is Essential

Perhaps the number of people freezing their credit will increase if the bill clears the Senate and makes it through the House of Representatives. After all, consumers enjoy using free services. Freezing your credit is far from the most important step to keeping yourself safe, though. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice released statistics that showed only four percent of identity theft cases were due to new accounts opened with stolen information. The vast majority of theft — 86 percent — occurs with existing accounts. It sounds much easier to rack up bills on credit card numbers that already exist than submitting new applications. Make your information code harder to crack by following “6 Tips for Keeping Your Credit Card Safe Online.”

Featured image courtesy of Andrew Bret Wallis via Getty Images.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.