BALTIMORE (AP) — A new law taking effect in Maryland this week allows residents to place a freeze on their credit reports free of charge.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh says a credit freeze is one of the most effective methods of identity theft protection.

It prevents anyone from seeing your credit report without your permission. If a creditor can’t see your report, they are less likely to open a new credit card, cellphone, utility or other account at the request of an identity thief.

A credit freeze remains in effect until the consumer decides to remove it.

The new law only waives fees for freezing a credit report, not fees for temporarily lifting the freeze. That can cost $5 per credit bureau, though creditors usually only need to review one bureau’s report.

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