LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Starting Friday, consumers who want to keep a close eye on their financial lives can freeze and unfreeze their credit files for free.

In the wake of hacking attacks and major data breaches that have even affected Equifax, a nationwide credit reporting agency, a new law that goes into effect today makes it free to request a freeze on a consumer’s credit file. Previously, it cost about $10 to put a freeze on a credit file with each agency, and consumers had to pay another fee to unfreeze the file.

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The new law – known as the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act — also allows parents to put a freeze on their children’s credit files for free until the child is old enough to use credit and extends initial fraud alerts from 90 days to a year.

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Federal Trade Commission officials urge consumers to not confuse a credit freeze with a credit lock, they work similarly, but locks may come with a monthly fee.

The law also requires credit reporting agencies to offer free electric credit monitoring to all active duty military.

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Credit freezes must be requested separately with Equifax, Experian and Transunion.