If there was a way to guarantee identity thieves couldn’t open accounts in your name, would you do it? Of course you would! So why haven’t you?
A credit freeze, sometimes called a security freeze, puts your credit “on ice” and prevents anyone from being able to access your credit or open a new line of credit in your name. Until recently, credit reporting bureaus charged a fee to freeze your credit, but starting in September, free credit freezes are required to be available nationwide. Despite the clear benefits of freezing your credit, a survey from AARP found only 14 percent of American adults have frozen their credit files.
When should I freeze my credit?
After the Equifax breach exposed the sensitive data of over 145 million Americans, it’s shocking that so few people have frozen their credit. This simple system prevents identity thieves from secretly opening credit in your name. If you haven’t frozen your credit yet, you should do so immediately. Remember to freeze your credit with all three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, for the freeze to be effective.
Is a credit freeze permanent?
No. If you need to open a new line of credit or allow someone to view your credit report, you can thaw your credit temporarily. Thanks to the new law, there are no fees to thaw your credit. However, you would have to thaw your credit at all three bureaus, since you don’t know where your credit will be pulled from.
What about the children?
Javelin Strategy & Research reported that in 2017, over 1 million children under the age of 18 were the victims of identity theft. Fortunately, the new law will also require credit bureaus to allow parents to create and freeze credit files for children under the age of 16. The FTC has more information about child identity theft, including how parents can freeze their child’s credit, at consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0040-child-identity-theft.
A credit freeze will not protect you from every kind of fraud, and you should still monitor your credit card statement and credit report regularly. However, a credit freeze is a valuable safety net and will go a long way toward keeping you safe from identity thieves. Learn how to freeze your credit at consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs.
If you find any value in this article please share it on social media and with your peers!
Thanks for reading,
Randy Sklar, CEO
PS. Are you still using the same password that has been exposed in the Facebook, LinkedIn, or Yahoo breach?? Click below to see how to set up your own password vault to hacker-proof all your passwords...