In the recent aftermath of the Equifax data breach, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself if you were part of the 143 million affected is to freeze your credit. This will have no impact on the lines of credit you already have open. What a credit freeze does is restrict access to your credit report to make it more difficult for thieves to open new accounts in your name. Here are some of the ways you can go about doing this.
Freezing Through All Three Credit Bureaus
If you do need to freeze your credit, you need to make sure you freeze it with all three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Here are the methods for freezing for each:
- Equifax: Freeze it online or through certified mail—return receipt requested. If you opt to do it via certified mail, be aware of anything you need to include. You can also call: 1-800-685-1111 (NY Residents: 1-800-349-9960)
- Experian: Freeze it online or through certified mail—return receipt requested. You can also call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742)
- Transunion: Freeze it online or through certified mail—return receipt requested. You can also call: 1-888-909-8872
Free credit freezes for victims are available. If you are a victim of identity theft, make sure you check to get this benefit before you pay for anything. If you aren’t a victim, the fee for freezing your credit can range from $3 to $10.
Subscriptions and Apps to Freeze Your Credit
Equifax has made their TrustedID Premier service available to all customers free for one year. This will give you access to your credit report, credit monitoring, and an identity theft protection product according to Consumer Reports. Consumers have until Tuesday, November 21, 2017, to sign up.
Experian has a product that is called CreditLock through CreditWorks, a subscription service. For your first month of access it will cost $4.99 a month then it will go up to $24.99. This allows you to lock and unlock your credit in real time.
Transunion has a unique offer with their mobile app. Though you have to enroll in their TrueIdentity Service, this gives you the ability to lock and unlock your credit from your smartphone. The tradeoff is that you pay more money for greater control if you need to freeze your credit immediately.
Thawing Your Credit
Once you have decided it is time to unfreeze your credit, there will also be varying fees from free to $10. Be aware that majority of states permanently freeze your credit when you have requested it. However, if you live in Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, or South Dakota. In these states, you will need to renew your credit freeze seven days from the date of placement.
As you can imagine, if you are active in the financial world and are opening a lot of accounts, freezing and unfreezing can be quite costly. However, if you feel that you have been a victim of identity theft, it can be a lifesaver.