Most of the time when you hear about identity theft or a security breach, it is associated with a negative storyline and a series of recommended actions to protect yourself, particularly if your information was compromised. Placing a credit freeze is one of the best ways to protect your personal identity.
The federal government has finally jumped on board and removed the cost associated with adding a credit freeze. A credit freeze prevents lenders from pulling your credit, which may be a temporary inconvenience if you are applying for a loan on the spot. However, a temporary inconvenience is a small trade-off to prevent would be criminals from opening an account in your name.
As of September 21st, 2018 a new federal law allows you to freeze and unfreeze your credit at the three major credit bureaus without being charged. Prior to the new law, it cost anywhere between $3-$12 per bureau to freeze and unfreeze your credit.
While this is a meaningful step to put in place for your protection, the best approach is to ALWAYS be cautious of your vulnerability when it comes to protecting your personal information. We suggest the following added layers of security and awareness.
- Review your free annual credit report from all three credit bureaus through annualcreditreport.com. Rather than reviewing all three credit reports at once annually, we suggest pulling a report from one of the three credit bureaus every 4 months. This way you are monitoring your report 3 times a year rather than once.
- If your credit cards and bank accounts offer transaction alerts and notifications, we strongly suggest turning on those settings. In addition, if two-factor authentication is available for any online accounts that maintain sensitive personal information, use it. These have become fairly immediate in nature and can stop a fraudulent transaction quickly.
- Take advantage of the new law and implement a credit freeze with all three bureaus.
On an ongoing basis, we suggest establishing the following healthy practices of awareness to reduce the likelihood of your personal information being at risk:
- Regularly changing your passwords and avoiding those passwords that can easily be identified
- Avoid logging into your personal information on unsecured networks
- Avoid communicating sensitive personal information directly through the body of an email
If you would like more information provided by our federal and state government visit: