Can a Credit Freeze Protect Your Identity?

October 23, 2017

Flip through a newspaper or scroll through social media, and it seems that the threat of identity theft a rising worry in the U.S. with good reason. Identity theft can be a headache for consumers: it can trash your credit, lead to fraudulent charges on your credit card or even lead to concerns that are less-easily resolved, like a stolen Social Security Number.

Credit card companies have attempted to crack down on fraud by rolling out EMV cards, which have a smart chip in them. While banks were quick adapt this security measures, many retailers and consumers were slow to change their habits. Perhaps as a result, the increase in EMV credit cards has done little to protect against identity theft. NBC reported that 180 million cases of fraud occurred in 2015 – even with retailers and customers alike were warned to look out for signs of fraud. Identity theft and credit card fraud can be an expensive problems to clean up, making it a shrewd idea to keep an eye on your credit report and sign up for credit monitoring, which can conduct an ongoing review on your behalf.

However, if you find yourself the victim of credit or identity fraud without identity theft protection on hand, there are some actions you can take to potentially make it more difficult for thieves to use you credit. Here’s some basic information about placing a credit freeze.

An important tool, but not a failsafe

A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze according to the FTC is a tool you can use to restrict access to your credit report. You can implement a credit freeze by contacting the credit bureaus separately and requesting a freeze. These simple calls can often help to deter an identity thief.

But, a credit freeze doesn’t just freeze out a thief, it can block certain entities from having access to it.

Why is this important? According to the Federal Trade Commission, if a creditor cannot access your credit report, they may be less likely to offer credit to an individual seeking it.

This can be a cumbersome way to protect your identity and your credit, especially if you are going through major life changes like applying for a job or renting a new apartment. Take note: When you need to apply for a loan, rent an apartment or apply for a credit card, you will need to lift the freeze. However, it is not a failsafe method that will keep your credit and identity safe. U.S. News and World Report noted that a credit freeze won't stop hackers from taking control of your current accounts - only from opening new ones.

A great way of keeping an eye on your identity without having to go through the hassle of placing and removing credit freezes is to enroll in identity theft protection that in includes credit monitoring. Identity Guard offers these services and more to help you be proactive about protecting your identity.

Useful for protecting minors

Criminals are often ingenious and know that focusing their efforts on identity theft of minors can be an easier target. Mostly due to the fact that minors are not usually part of the economic marketplace yet, their parents aren’t monitoring their credits. However, this sense of security the parents hold presents an open window opportunity for thieves.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is leading the charge on this in his home state, helping parents protect their children from identity theft. By placing a credit freeze on a minor's credit, it may stop thieves from using their social security number and applying for lines of credit in the child’s name. There are many cases where young adults prepare to take out loans for college and they are presented with the nasty surprise of debt because their identity has been stolen.

While a credit freeze may be a suitable option for some consumers, make sure to do your research and find the right identity theft protection solution to fit your lifestyle. In the meantime, keep up to date with the latest identity theft new with Identity Guard’s blog News & Insight

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