October 04, 2018
One of the best ways to protect yourself from identify thieves is now free of charge. Beginning in late September, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion began offering consumers the ability to place and lift credit freezes on their credit reports without imposing any fee. In the past the credit bureaus could charge $10 for each credit freeze on/off move.
Now that there is no cost to protect yourself, what are you waiting for?
Putting credit freezes on your financial history at the credit bureaus makes it as close to impossible for a thief to use your financial identity to pose as you and get credit cards or loans in your name. With a freeze, no business can check your credit report. So even if a thief has enough information to try and pose as you, lenders are unlikely to green light a card or loan application if they can’t check a credit report.
Don’t think you need to worry about this? Please don’t be so foolish. If you haven’t yet had a run in with a data breach, or actually been a victim of identity theft, consider yourself lucky. The new free credit freeze is a result of last year’s massive Equifax data breach that impacted more than 145 million accounts. As much as we want to hope this won’t happen again, the reality is that they will continue to occur. One silver lining of the massive Equifax breach is that Congress passed a law that requires the credit bureaus to stop charging for credit freezes.
When you place a freeze, businesses can’t check your credit even when it is you applying for a new credit card account or loan. I think that’s actually a good speed bump. You shouldn’t need anyone to check your credit report on super-short notice. C’mon, how often are you applying for a mortgage, car loan, or credit card?
When you are shopping for something that requires a credit check, all you need to do is contact the credit bureaus and have the freeze lifted. Then when your credit check is complete, you can put the freeze back in place. All for free.
You must contact Equifax, Experian and TransUnion separately to request a credit freeze, and to lift the freeze. Please use the links here; they go directly to the page at each credit bureau where you can put a freeze in place, for free. Credit bureaus have all sorts of services they offer—for a fee. There is absolutely zero reason to pay a penny for using a credit freeze to protect your identity.