One of the absolute easiest and FREE ways and to protect yourself against identity theft and keep crooks from opening up accounts in your name is to freeze your credit.
First, let’s debunk some myths about credit freezes. A credit freeze DOES NOT:
1. Affect your credit score.
2. Prevent you from obtaining your free annual credit report.
3. Prevent you from applying for a job
4. Buying insurance
5. Opening a new account
6. Renting an apartment.
But if you do any of these things you will need to life the freeze temporarily either for a specific time or for a specific party. This is also FREE to do.
One thing to note is that a credit freeze DOES NOT prevent a crook from making charges to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraud. You could sign up for FREE credit monitoring through Credit Sesame or Credit Karma. There is no need to pay for credit monitoring.
How To Freeze Your Credit Reports
Once you sign up for the FREE credit monitoring listed above you will need to contact each of the nationwide credit bureaus:
You’ll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.
After receiving your freeze request, each credit bureau will provide you with a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze.
How do I lift a freeze?
A freeze remains in place until you ask the credit bureau to temporarily lift it or remove it altogether. If the request is made online or by phone, a credit bureau must lift a freeze within one hour. If the request is made by mail, then the bureau must lift the freeze no later than three business days after getting your request.
If you opt for a temporary lift because you are applying for credit or a job, and you can find out which credit bureau the business will contact for your file, you can save some time by lifting the freeze only at that particular credit bureau. Otherwise, you need to make the request with all three credit bureaus.