What is going on with your credit? No like right now? Is it safe and secure? Or are gamers in the Ukraine enjoying opening up new lines of credit in your name? The Dark Web, Identity Theft, Fraudulent Transactions…. you ‘ve heard the terms. So what do you do about it?
Get a Freeze on your Credit
Seem simple right? Why would this not be heavily marketed? Well, it’s advertised as a benefit for people who have BEEN victims of identity theft. But my question is WHY WAIT? Be preemptive, get the layer of security before you need it. California was the first state to offer credit freezes in 2003 and by 2007 all 3 credit bureaus offered a freeze.
HOW IT WORKS
Each of the 3 Credit Bureaus offer a Free credit freeze. Beware, they don’t like to really advertise freezes to the masses because it causes more work and coding on the bureaus’ side. However, a credit freeze suspends the ability for a vendor to pull your credit score. Thereby prohibiting an additional line of credit being opened in your name.
Below. You go to each of the 3 credit bureaus, sign up for a credit freeze and you will be mailed or emailed a pin. Your credit will be frozen. Whenever you or a vendor needs to pull your credit you will log onto the bureaus’ website or call (TransUnion ….eye roll) . You can select a date range to unfreeze your credit. I usually only unfreeze for up to a week.
In the late 2000s, each bureau charged $10 for every un-freeze. Yeah, now it is free.
TO FREEZE OR NOT TO FREEZE
- Layers of security. Think about stealing a car. Don’t act like you haven’t. There are 2 cars. The first car is locked. The second car is locked, surrounded by a barbed wire fence with 4 pitt bulls inside. Which car would you steal? Theifs are the same. Thiefs are going for the opportunity with least resistance. Will a credit freeze guarantee you will never be a victim of identity theft? No, but having multiple layers of security will more than likely have the criminal moving on to a softer target.
- Credit Score. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score. It does not affect the current lines of credit you are currently using or are available.
- For your kids. You can open a security freeze for your kids. There are stories of kids turning 18 and finding out their SSN has been fraudulently used for years. Imagine starting out of the gates at 18 with thousands of dollars in credit and a bad credit score to overcome. Protect your kid’s credit by setting up a freeze for them today.
- Inconvenience. So here is where you weigh security measures vs risk of being an identity theft victim. For me, it’s an easy decision. I pull my credit maybe twice a year? It’s worth having to spend 30 minutes to unfreeze my credit to know I have that layer of security.
- Losing your code or pin. This somewhat ties into inconvenience but keep this secure. I keep mine in a bank security lock box. Remember the SNL Al Gore “lockbox“?
How to set up your Security Freeze
Let me hear your thoughts and stories. Thanks for visiting Safe Harbor Insurance Advisors!
BankRate.com’s article on credit freezes HERE