A new state law will allow Hawaii consumers to request free security freezes.
Act 22 goes into effect this Sunday, July 1, and will allow Hawaii residents to request consumer reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to place, lift, or remove a security freeze on their credit report for free.
The law also applies to children under age 16.
Under current Hawaii law, consumer reporting agencies can charge consumers a fee of $5 each time they freeze, lift, and unfreeze their credit report.
The major benefit of a security freeze is that it restricts access to a consumer’s credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in the consumer’s name.
“Our residents should have the right to freeze their credit files without cost and without unnecessary hassles,” said Stephen Levins, executive director of the Office of Consumer Protection. “Free credit freezes will encourage people to proactively protect themselves from becoming victims of a security breach and will help reduce identity theft in Hawaii.”
Then in September, a new federal law goes into effect. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act will extend the right to obtain a free credit freeze to the rest of the country.
The Office of Consumer Protection recommends consumers do the following to protect themselves from identity theft:
- Regularly request their free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
- Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
- Consider placing alerts on their financial accounts so their financial institution alerts them when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
- Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
- Be on the lookout for spoofed email address. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently the letter O to the number zero, or lowercase letter I to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.