Hope you had a great summer! I’m starting Fall blog posts with Good News – as of September 21, 2018, consumers do not have to PAY to freeze their credit reports anymore. Just when you think nothing good ever comes for free.
First, what does a credit report freeze do:
- Restricts access to your credit report
- Can prevent thieves from trying to open accounts in your name or with your identity.
What does a credit report freeze NOT do:
- Stop lenders you want from seeing your credit report, but you have to LIFT the freeze to let them see it
- Stop thieves from CHARGING GOODS TO YOUR ACCOUNTS – sorry! You still have to monitor your accounts and credit cards for theft and fraudulent charges
- Stop pre-screened offers (you know, the 0% credit card mailings)
- Stop existing creditors (e.g., your mortgage holder) from seeing your credit report
- Stop you from getting a free annual credit report
Up until last week, depending on your state, you may have paid up to $10 dollars to put a freeze on. I know $10 is not much to protect you from the headache of identity theft, but given the way Equifax was breached last spring, that’s the least regulators can do for consumers. Plus, it gets more people to sign up and get protected. The downside is you still have to contact each of the three main credit reporting companies to put a freeze on your credit report. I’ve listed the links below to make it easy.
- TransUnion – https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
- Equifax – https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
- Experian – https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
There’s no good reason NOT to do this. It’s easy and gives you a bit more safety than without it. You do have to “unfreeze” your credit report if you want to apply for a loan somewhere.
Last thing, this does not mean you’re totally safe. It’s just one GOOD THING TO DO to try to stop thieves from opening accounts with your identity. There’s lots of other fraud and theft out there. Make sure you CHECK YOUR CREDIT CARD BILL and accounts. If you are specifically worried about your account, e.g., your wallet was recently stolen, you may also want to place a FRAUD ALERT on your account. A Fraud Alert will force anyone trying to get a copy of your credit report to take extra steps to verify your identity.