While cyber crimes rise, the actual percentages of the probability of someone’s identity being stolen remains relatively low. However, anyone who has experienced such an unfavorable event, knows all too well that being overly cautious is never a bad idea.
The rise and cyber crimes have resulted in a new option for individuals trying to secure their identities from hackers and thieves. Introducing Security Credit Freeze!
What is a Security Credit Freeze?
A security credit freeze is the act of freezing all of your credit report history and credit information for a set period of time. During this time, no one can access your credit report or any type of credit information in regards to your personal identity. This system was devised to assist people in keeping their identities safe from those who would like to open new accounts in their names.
And example of this would be someone who has your personal information like your name, date of birth, and Social Security number, who goes to a store to open a credit card in your name. Someone with this information could also make larger purchases that could ruin your credit like buying a house or a car under your name.
While you can’t stop someone from stealing your information altogether, you can reduce their ability to use that information. In order to open a credit account under anyone’s name, the issuing company has to do a credit check on the individual applying for credit; if a credit freeze has been activated, all of your credit information will disappear from the servers, and no one will be able to access a credit report, leaving the thief unable to open a new fraudulent account.
How to Freeze your Credit Report
Activating a credit report freeze is not an easy task. There maybe some fees involved and a few complications along the way. But generally, you must contact the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
When contacting the bureaus, expect for them to ask for your personal information such as your name, your address, your date of birth, and your Social Security number. Feel free to divulge this information, as you can trust the individuals at the credit bureaus. The attending representative may also ask you for other details.
Fees and filing requirements will vary by state; you can visit their websites for each credit bureau for more information.
The Ins and Outs of Freezing your Credit
According to recent searches, the fees for freezing your credit range between five dollars and $10. However, individuals over the age of 65 qualify for a discount. Alternately, if you have already been a victim of identity theft, these bureaus will freeze your credit report for you free of charge.
Once your credit freeze has been activated, the bureau will give you a personal identification pin, you must retain this for your records it as this will be the only way for you to unfreeze your credit report when you are ready.
Deactivating your credit report freeze requires a small fee, usually about $10 and this fee varies according to the rules and regulations of your state.
Should You Freeze Your Credit?
The fees may not seem to hefty on a step-by-step basis, but if you allow them to accumulate they can be a real burden. It is essential that you accurately plan out your steps so that you know exactly how much you will be paying once the process is completely over.
Once you choose to lift your credit freeze, be aware that this can be a lengthy process that can take upwards of five working days. In the meantime, if you have acquired new credit cards or accounts you can do a few things to reduce the possibility of a hacker stealing your card information:
- Do not opt to save credit card information on your browser fields
- Invest in a VPN service like Hide-my-IP, that can divert your IP address and protect your computer’s location from hackers
- Do not keep your credit card numbers and information saved on files on the computer, it is always best to keep a hand written notebook with all of your private information in a safe
Despite the many stumbles and hassles that you will face along the way, freezing your credit is a fail proof method of keeping your money safe and secure from the wicked hands of the hackers.