As more and more people become dependent on technology, the chance of your finances being attacked through cyberspace is increasing tremendously. And one of the most common and devastating ways this happens is through identity theft using your credit. Someone posing as you (and with your personal information) might successfully be able to open new lines of credit in your name, which can wreak havoc on your finances. It’s also one of the easier crimes to prevent.
Freezing your credit is one of the most effective ways you can fight against cyber theft. It blocks access to your credit file, making it impossible for someone other than you to open new financial accounts in your name. And you’re the only one who can lift the freeze before new creditors have access to your credit reports for legitimate reasons.
How do you freeze your credit? A request for a credit freeze must be made through all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Conveniently, each bureau allows you to request a credit freeze online or over the phone. Be prepared to provide your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. After a few questions to confirm your identity, you’ll be provided with a PIN that you can use to unfreeze and refreeze your credit as needed.
Remember that you’ll need to unfreeze your credit with each bureau whenever you want to open a new credit account (so allow some extra time in the application process to allow for the freeze clearance). This cost-free way of protecting your finances can give you much more peace of mind and help keep your credit cyber-secure.