If you're worried that a data breaches could make you
vulnerable and want some peace of mind - you may be yearning for a
foolproof solution. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has a helpful
reminder. A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, lets you
limit access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult
for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
Placing a freeze on your credit report will prevent lenders and others from accessing
your Credit Reports entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit.
The price of a security freeze varies by state but it's typically
$5 to $10 per credit agency. (It's often free for people who have
already been victims of identity theft.)
One thing to remember: A credit freeze doesn't prevent a thief from
making charges to your existing accounts. Even if you elect to do a
credit freeze you still need to monitor your existing credit card
and bank accounts for charges you don't recognize.
You will need to place a Security Freeze separately with each of the
three major credit reporting companies if you want the freeze on all
of your credit files. A Security Freeze remains on your credit file
until you remove it or choose to lift it temporarily
when applying for credit or credit-dependent services.
Whenever you want to allow someone to check your credit, you'll
need to pay a fee to lift the freeze, again typically $5 to $10 per credit
agency. However, you may not need to lift all three credit agencies
freezes to request credit. Here at CSDCU, we only pull your credit
from Equifax for most loan applications, so you would only need
to remove the freeze placed on your credit report from their website.
The credit agencies will give you a password to lift the freeze.
Finally, if you're afraid that an identity thief may already have used
stolen information to open accounts in your name, a credit freeze won't help.
To find out if that's the case, you'll have to check your credit report.
You can request a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from
each credit reporting company at annualcreditreport.com
. If you suspect
fraud, you'll want to notify your financial institutions, change your
passwords, watch your statements, and file a police report.
Placing a protective freeze for a child can prevent fraudulent accounts
from being opened with your child's identity. Children make a tempting target
for identity thieves because theft of a child's identity may go undetected for years.
If you are the parent/legal guardian of a minor or medically incapacitated consumer
and reside in an eligible state, you may have the right to request a
Protected Consumer Freeze.
Ready to act? You can place a credit freeze online, right now: