Michelle Singletary published a column on May 30th titled “You can soon freeze credit at no cost, a potent tool in identity-theft fight”. Ms. Singletary has done consumers a terrific service by highlighting a provision in a recently passed law — a provision that will make it easier for consumers to put credit freezes in place.

As she reports, the free credit freezes will take effect by September 21st. Why is this such a significant change? Because up to now, consumers have had to separately pay each credit reporting agency (i.e., Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) a fee to place — and then lift — a credit freeze with each of them. These credit freezes have gained increased importance given the cascading number of major data breaches that have occurred over the last few years.

A credit freeze means that the credit reporting agency can’t release any information about a consumer without her express permission. So — in the identity theft context — this helps prevent identity thieves from opening new lines of credit using personal identifying information stolen from a consumer.

Ms. Singletary’s column contains all the key details about the upcoming changes. I urge consumers to read it and get ready to place these credit freezes if they haven’t already done so.