What is a Credit Freeze and should I use it?

Data breaches expose consumers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) at an alarming rate, and continue to place people at risk of identity theft and fraud.

What is a Credit Freeze?

 

A credit freeze (AKA security freeze) is a tool you can use to help protect yourself against credit fraud.
 
When you freeze your credit reports you are restricting access to these reports. This temporarily suspends anyone from accessing this information, which means neither you nor identity thieves can open new lines or credit or loans in your name.

Think of it as locking away a valuable item until you need it again. When that time comes, you can unfreeze your credit report and once again allow lenders access.

 

Should I use a Credit Freeze?

Whether you’re a victim of credit or identity fraud or choosing to be proactive against this type of crime, a freeze is a great option for protecting yourself.

 

This process is quick as once you contact the credit bureaus by phone or online they must put the freeze in place within 1 business day.

 

Here is the contact information for the three credit bureaus:

 

  • Equifax: Call 800-685-1111 or online
  • Experian: Call 888-397-3742 or online
  • TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or online
If you need to ‘thaw’ your credit, you can do this for a specified amount of time or leave it open until you freeze it again.

 

Another added benefit of a credit freeze is that it prevents the bureaus from selling your data, which should stop unsolicited mail / offers.

 

This simple process does not cost anything nor does it affect your credit score. If you want to freeze your credit, you need to do it at each of the three major credit bureaus.

 

Make sure you’re taking the proper steps to secure your information so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

 

If you have any questions at all please call us at (800) 822-7120.
 
 

Steps to Take if You Have Been a Victim of Identity Theft

Identity thieves are opportunistic and exploit vulnerabilities in individuals’ personal information security practices.  Identity theft is more than a simple inconvenience. It’s a crime that can seriously complicate your life—potentially costing you time, money and opportunities.

 

 

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the number of reported cases of identity fraud in 2020 doubled in the United States. Each piece of information or account they gain access to can help them steal more. Unfortunately, signs of fraud can take weeks or months to reveal themselves, leaving us even more vulnerable.

 

 

Here are the best steps you can take if you have become a victim of identity theft:

 
  • Check for inaccuracies from Your credit reports and make a list of any suspicious information you discover. You will need these details later when you work on fixing your credit later.
  • Change all your account PINs and passwords.
  • Review your mail & credit card statements to confirm none of your accounts have been hijacked.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report. When a fraud alert is on your credit report, lenders must confirm your identity (usually via phone) before they can open new accounts in your name.
  • Freeze your credit report.  When you freeze your credit report, you take it out of circulation. So, if someone applies for credit your name, the lender will not be able to access your credit report. As a result, the application for credit will be denied.
  • Contact your creditors and ask them to freeze the compromised accounts and to dispute fraudulent charges.  Federal laws like the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act can limit your liability for bogus charges on your credit cards or debit cards. The trick is to report the theft in a timely manner. Otherwise, you could be responsible for some or perhaps all of the unauthorized purchases.
  • The final step in this process is to fix your credit. Start with filing an identity theft report.  The easiest way to create an identity theft report is to visit IdentityTheft.gov.  Once you have this report you will need to contact the 3 credit reporting agencies and ask them to block the account(s) from your credit report within four business days.  They should suppress any fraudulent accounts.
 

If your case of identity theft has not been resolved to your satisfaction or you need help in this process, email us at erik@thdcreditconsulting.com or call us at 1-800-822-7120.  THD Credit can help.

 

-Erik Kaplan

Here are 4 steps to take immediately if you have been a victim of identity theft

In 2015 alone, over 13 million Americans were victim of identity fraud, resulting in damages of more than $15 billion. While identity theft takes many forms, these are some of the most common:

– Credit card fraud

– False applications for new credit

– Fraudulent withdrawals from a bank account

– Fraudulent use of telephone calling cards

– Fraudulent use of medical care

– Social security fraud (for tax and employment fraud)

Here are 4 steps to take immediately if you have been a victim of identity theft:

  • Contact the institution involved – e.g. if your credit card was stolen, call your bank and report fraudulent charges.
  • Place an Initial Fraud Alert with a credit bureau – This is a 90-day warning that cardholders can ask the credit bureaus to place on their credit reports.  Make sure you get a copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies.
  • Submit an Identity Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create an Identity Theft Report. This report gives you important rights that can help you restore your financial health.
  • File a report police report – You should also report identity theft to the police. When filing the police report, bring a copy of your FTC report, a government-issued photo ID, proof of your address (such as a utility bill), and any proof you may have of the theft (credit card statements, bank statements, bills, etc).

Clearing the wreckage of identity theft can be a complex process.  If this happens to you, I am here to help stop the theft and minimize the damage.

Until next month,

Erik Kaplan

Coming Soon!