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Minnesotans can protect identity with a free credit freeze

Citizens can now protect their financial information by ordering a free "credit freeze" with the three major credit agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

The law that allows the credit freeze or security freeze went into effect Sept. 21. A freeze restricts access to a credit file, making it more difficult for criminals to open fraudulent new accounts or borrow money in an individual's name.

The best method would be to freeze credit with all three agencies, online or by phone, according to Minnesota officials. The freeze will go into effect the following business day and remain in effect until the account owner requests to remove the freeze.

Anyone wanting to open a bank account, take out a loan, or otherwise create new credit, will need to temporarily unfreeze the account and then freeze it again when the transactions are finished.

Parents can also use the new law to freeze their child's credit file until the child is old enough to use credit.