Each year, identity thieves steal more than a billion dollars from consumers. Whether you are at a store, an ATM, or shopping online - anyone's identity can be swiped if they are not paying attention. “You have to be cognizant of where you use your card, who you give your information to, you just have to keep on top of all of that,” said Sgt. Craig Bredenbeck of New Hanover County sheriff’s Office. “When someone steals your information, like your social security number or other personal information, they'll go out and try to set up a credit card or loan in your name and that's what happens with identity theft,” described NC Attorney General Roy Cooper. A new law will allow consumers to stop the thief cold in their tracks. With a security freeze, the bank won't issue that credit card or that loan to the criminal because you will have frozen your credit. The new law, which goes into effect October 1st, allows consumers to go online to freeze or unfreeze their credit for free. “I definitely think it's a good thing, because before you actually had to make a written request and provide documentation that you were the actual person,” Shannon Blizzard of Long Acquisitions said. Offering the service online could make it easier to keep consumers safe, but experts say they don't expect identity thieves to disappear. “It has probably added to the prevention and helping in maybe deterring identity theft, but it's not going to totally stop it,” Sgt. Bredenbeck said. The new law will also prevent creditors from reporting victims' debts to national credit bureaus, and require credit monitoring services to notify consumers about their eligibility for one free credit report each year.
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