On September 21, 2018, a federal law introduced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was passed offering the ability to safeguard your identity by freezing your credit without cost. Once a fee-based service ranging from $3-$10 per freeze in your state of residence, you can now prevent access to your credit file for free across all 50 states.
A credit freeze with the main three reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, may help to prevent unauthorized access to your credit report. A security PIN or password is required each time you want to remove the freeze to apply for new credit. With security breaches showering the dark web with social security numbers and other sensitive information, including the Equifax data breach, it’s more critical than ever to secure your identity and credit.
Reasons to take action and freeze
Keeping thieves and prying eyes away from your account with a no-cost credit freeze can help prevent anybody from establishing credit lines unbeknownst to you. Taking proactive measures today provides an extra layer of protection. Sensitive information is being leaked at an alarming pace, as web giants like Google and Facebook both recently announced intrusions into their networks giving thieves access to personal information reportedly up to 50 million users.
Although nine of 10 people have taken steps to enhance their security, the number freezing credit accounts is surprisingly low. Only 14 percent surveyed had taken measures to protect their credit, typically underestimating their own risk. This may be attributed to the perception that it is a hassle to freeze or unfreeze your credit. However, with new easy to use mobile apps it is easier than ever.
You can protect the identity of children under age 16 by prohibiting access to their file until they are ready to apply for credit. The FTC website allows you to check if your child’s identity is being used for government benefits, open bank and credit accounts or to apply for a loan. Locking your child’s credit can help minimize future headaches.
Unfreezing a frozen credit is a relatively easy process. We strongly recommend using the links from the FTC’s website to access the main three credit reporting agencies instead of connecting via a search engine. Users may find themselves clicking fraudulent links by mistake and providing sensitive information to untrusted entities.
TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are attempting to further simplify the process of unfreezing by helping consumers lock and unlock their credit via a smartphone app available for iPhone and Android devices. This may be a more convenient option than logging into or calling the agencies, assuming you can remember your login information.
Protecting your identity and credit has never been more important as fraudsters optimize their ability to impersonate you and digital breaches continue to rise. Be sure to keep all sensitive information secured away safely, including PINs and logins, and remember to check your credit report annually.
Freeze your credit report for free:
- TransUnion:Visit com/credit-freeze or download their mobile “myTransUnion,” available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
- Equifax: Visit https://www.Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/ or download their mobile “Lock & Alert,” available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
- Experian: Visit https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html or call 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742).
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