Learning finance

How to freeze your credit

Good credit equals financial freedom. It allows you to buy assets like a car or a house. What does a bad credit rating do for you? A loan vehicle and a sleeping area in mum and dad’s basement.

One way to avoid bad credit is to be financially responsible and monitor your credit reports. When reviewing your reports, watch out for late payments, accounts receivable, and defaults on loans that can wreak havoc on your credit score. Other detrimental entries include bankruptcy or a data breach.

Unfortunately, data breaches strike often and can destroy your credit. Tap or click to see how serious these violations can be. One way to avoid damage from this type of exploit is to freeze your credit.

Data Breach 101

So what is a data breach? A data breach occurs when information is accessed, taken, or used by an individual, application, or service without permission.

Hackers have access to a wealth of data and companies need to repair the damage. Yahoo’s more than 3 billion records compromised between 2012 and 2016 earned the company the top spot among the 10 worst data breaches of all time. Tap or click here to learn more about this terrible situation.

The most sought-after information includes social security numbers, banking information, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, medical records, passwords, and other sensitive data.

According to Risk-Based Security, 2019 is expected to be the worst year on record for breach activity. Its 2019 MidYear Data Breach QuickView report for the first half of 2019 indicates that more than 3,800 breaches have taken place through June 30. These breaches exposed over 4.1 billion records.

The number of breaches has increased by 54% since 2018. The report further notes that three of the 2019 breaches are on the list of the most significant breaches of all time.

What is a credit freeze? Does it impact your credit score?

This free tool, commonly known as a security freeze, limits access to your credit report and makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. You must freeze your credit with each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

And no, a credit freeze does not affect your credit score. Here’s what else you need to know:

  • You can still get your free annual credit report(s).
  • You are authorized to open new accounts.
  • Current creditors and their collectors continue to have access to your reports.
  • Court orders, subpoenas and search warrants can leave your credit reports accessible to government agencies.
  • You can lift a credit freeze, temporarily, for specific businesses, including potential employers.

When you’re ready to cancel your credit freeze, you can do so at no cost. Visit each of the credit reporting agencies and follow the steps to unfreeze your reports.

How to freeze your credit

Experian

A security gel is simple with the Experian freezing center. Here you’ll find the form you need to complete, along with additional security gel resources. You also have the option of calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742) or you can submit your request in writing to Experian Security Freeze PO Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013.

Equifax

The fastest and easiest way to freeze your credit with Equifax is online. Visit Equifax.com and follow the steps. If you prefer to freeze your credit report over the phone, call 1-888-298-0045 (8 a.m. to midnight EST, seven days a week). For inquiries by mail: Equifax Information Services LLC PO Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348-5788.

Trans Union

Like the other two credit bureaus, the TransUnion website has a section devoted to freezing credits. You can fill in the documents or search the FAQ. Additional options for freezing your credit include by phone at 1-888-909-8872, the myTransUnion mobile app available for both android and iPhoneand regular mail to TransUnion PO Box 160 Woodlyn, PA 19094.

To note: Check each agency for information on what you need to provide, such as your name, address, social security, etc. when submitting your request by mail.

Other ways to protect yourself

Since hackers can use your information for a number of transactions, such as filing tax returns and opening bank accounts, a credit freeze may not be enough. Here are some other steps you can take to protect your identity:

  • Alert your bank and freeze your accounts if recommended.
  • Obtain an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS.
  • It is essential that you use two-factor authentication for any online site.
  • Get copies of your medical records and regularly check for any suspicious providers listed or treatments you haven’t received.
  • Ask your local motor vehicle department for a copy of your driving record (you may have to pay a small fee). This record will indicate if there are any NSF checks assigned to your account.

To find out how your information may be used in the event of a breach, tap or click here. It’s true that it takes effort to keep your credit on track and protected from data breaches, but your efforts can help save you from high interest rates, a stolen identity, and sleeping on the couch. mom and dad.