Many people are concerned about identity theft in light of the Equifax data breach that impacted half the US population last year. Here are two ideas you may want to consider in order to protect your credit and identity:
1 – You Can Place a “Credit Freeze” on Your Credit File
When a credit thief tries to open a new loan or account in your name, the creditor that they apply with typically needs to pull a new credit report. A credit freeze allows you to restrict access to your credit report so that new creditors won’t be able to see your credit file. This makes it more difficult for credit thieves to open new accounts in your name. In order to put a credit freeze on your credit file, you’ll need to supply some personal information to the credit bureaus and pay a fee of $5 – $10 per credit bureau. Click here for more information about credit freezes from the FTC’s website.
Click here to place a credit freeze on your Equifax report (800-525-6285).
Click here to place a credit freeze on your Experian report (888-397-3742).
Click here to place a credit freeze on your Transunion report (800-680-7289).
2 – You Can Place a “Fraud Alert” on Your Credit File
You can call one of the numbers listed above for the three credit bureaus, and ask to put a fraud alert on your credit file. If you have a fraud alert on your credit file, creditors are required to go through extra steps to verify your identity before they issue credit or open a new account in your name. A fraud alert stays on your credit file for 90 days (it can be renewed), and when you notify one credit bureau, that bureau will notify the two others. It’s free to sign up for a fraud alert.
Click here for more information about fraud alerts from the FTC’s website.