Since it is part of my day job to know a bit about such things, I thought it prudent to share this information just in case it didn’t come across your normal info sources. I’ll do my best to make this exciting – okay, so maybe not exciting. I realize that’s a bit of an over-sell. How about interesting?
This information is totally PERTINENT and I always do my best to make it funny (I’m trying here). Here goes:
Legislation that took effect in September of 2018 made it FREE to consumers to “freeze” their credit.
Whoa. Did you even KNOW that? Are you excited?!?
I SAID, “FREE.” Usually that turns heads or ears in the right direction. How about, “This thing that you need is now ON SALE?!” Excited / interested yet? Maybe I should just quit with the cheek and get on with it:
So, here’s why you should care about that whole “free-freeze-your-credit” thing:
- This action was not previously free. Something that used to cost money – and that is still valuable – is now free to you. Awesome.
- This is a super-easy way to stop identity theft in its tracks. Not only for you, but for your children, too. I didn’t know this before I started digging, but child identity theft is a growing problem. More than 1 million kids were victims of identity theft in 2017. According to a study done in the article just linked, two-thirds of those child victims were under the age of 8. EIGHT.
So, why would you want to do it?
“The term security freeze, commonly referred to as a credit freeze, is a restriction that prohibits a consumer credit reporting agency from disclosing the contents of a credit report to any person requesting the data. Without that file, lenders can’t assess your creditworthiness and will not extend credit to you – or anyone claiming to be you. In effect, a credit freeze prevents new credit accounts from being established in your name. According to the FTC, a fraud alert will tell any business that runs your credit that they should check with you before opening a new account. – Forbes Magazine”
In short, when you “freeze” your credit, you restrict all action / access to your credit reports. Access to those reports is necessary to open any account in your name. If your information is frozen, no one else but YOU, the REAL you, can unfreeze it. This is exactly what you want in the age of Equifax information breaches and Marriott data leaks … and those are just TWO that we KNOW about. In this glorious age of technology when you can buy a cute swimsuit from Instagram on your PHONE in the BATH (I’ve never done this, why do you ask?), I’m thinking it’s a good idea to use a sprinkle of precaution while we gobble down all of this freedom.
How do I take advantage of this?
I wish it were even easier, but unfortunately, it’s not just one click. The freeze must be done in three places, once at each credit reporting bureau. The Federal Trade Commission has an Identity Theft website that provides links to each bureau’s freeze site. Links to answer questions I haven’t thought of are also here, with more tips and instructions to get this completed. Once frozen, if you’d like to grant anyone access to the information (take out a loan or open a credit card), you’d have to unfreeze it. It’s not easy peasy, but totally worth it.
Can you give me a quick re-cap?
Free identity theft prevention is now available for both you and your children. All you have to do is DO it. And it’s now free. Did I mention it’s free now? And that it used to cost actual money?
*Following the big, scary Equifax breach, less than 1 percent of customers took action to freeze their credit.
1. Freezing Credit Will Now Be Free. Here’s Why You Should Go for It.
2. How to Prevent Child Identity Theft By Freezing Your Kid’s Credit
3. Federal Trade Commission – The Marriott Data Breach, Consumer Information
4. Federal Trade Commission – Identity Theft, Consumer Information
5. Equifax breach exposed millions of driver’s licenses, phone numbers, emails