Credit Freeze: Effective ID Theft Protection?

October 29, 2017

Nowadays you can barely pass the week without hearing something about privacy, data breaches, and identity theft. Headlines scream the number of identity theft victims is rising, or that another high-profile company has experienced a hack.

Naturally consumers have been looking for better ways to help secure their information and detect identity misuse. A measure that is often touted as a great way to help protect ourselves is obtaining a credit freeze.

What is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, restricts access to your credit report, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Because most creditors need to see your credit report before lending or opening new credit accounts, a credit freeze can make it more difficult for identity thieves to open new credit lines in your name.

Credit freezes do not affect your credit score, prevent you from getting your free annual credit report, or prevent a fraudster from making charges on existing accounts. They also do not stop you from getting prescreened offers of credit in the mail or online.

How can I place a freeze on my credit reports?

To place a credit freeze you’ll need to call each of the reporting agencies and supply several pieces of personal information. There is may also be a fee, which varies from state to state.

What’s the difference between a credit alert and a credit freeze?

A credit freeze locks down your credit and prevents lenders from pulling your credit report. An alert on the other hand, allows creditors to pull your credit report as long as they take further steps to verify your identity.

Is a credit freeze a better option than identity theft protection service?

So you may ask yourself, should I use a credit freeze as my defense against identity theft? You can definitely add it as an extra precaution, but it’s a costly process you may not want to deal with.

Each time you place an alert it costs money. Fees vary depending on where you live, but the bureaus charge for credit freezes, which can quickly add up. Fees also apply when you need to temporarily lift a credit freeze either for a specific amount of time or for a specific party. So if you need to let your landlord perform a credit check, you’ll have to call and pay to let him or her do so.

Credit freezes can take a lot of time. To place a credit freeze on your credit report, you’ll have to call all three of the credit bureaus, which can take up precious time. You’ll also have to contact all three whenever you need to temporarily lift a credit a freeze for whatever reason, and lead times for credit freeze lifts vary by agency.

And it’s only one line of defense. With so many different ways your identity could be compromised these days, consumers can better their security and privacy by employing several different tactics to protect themselves. You should consider your social media usage, the privacy settings on your devices, limiting the number of places that have access to personally identifiable information, and other privacy measures.

What can an identity theft protection service do that a credit freeze can’t?

A credit freeze doesn’t provide the level of protection that an identity theft protection service can. Help protect your identity with Identity Guard. By leveraging IBM Watson technology, Identity Guard is continuously scanning the web to identify potential risks to your identity. Start doing more to protect your and your family's identity. 

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