Kiplinger Personal Finance: Why You Should Put Your Credit Reports On Ice | Business news

Kiplinger Personal Finance: Why You Should Put Your Credit Reports On Ice |  Business news

Freezing credit is the most effective way to prevent certain types of identity theft.

When your credit report is frozen, creditors can’t view it in response to a new credit request, so a criminal trying to open a loan or credit card on your behalf is unlikely to succeed.

The arguments for protecting your identity are as strong as ever, given that the number of data breaches has reached a record high in 2021, according to the Resource Center for Identity Theft.

But many consumers are dragging their feet. Although more than three-quarters of respondents to an Identity Theft Resource Center survey said they were familiar with the credit freeze, only 29% had ever placed one.

The reasons given for not using a credit freeze include the lack of need for one and the confusion or difficulty of the process. Some consumers have also had misconceptions about freezing, with fears that a freeze would adversely affect their credit score (it doesn’t have) and that freezing or thawing a credit report is expensive (it’s free).

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You don’t have to suffer identity theft to freeze. In fact, it is wise to freeze your reports before you become a victim. You will need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus.

You can contact Equifax at (888) 298-0045 or equifax.com/freeze; Experian at (888) 397-3742 or experian.com/freeze; and TransUnion at (888) 909-8872 or transunion.com/freeze. (You can also freeze your reports by mail; see kiplinger.com/kpf/freeze for more information.)

Provide information such as your social security number, date of birth, and address, and offices must freeze your reports within one business day of receiving your request by phone or online.

Depending on your credit bureau, you may receive a PIN that you will use to confirm your identity if you wish to lift the lock while requesting a credit card or loan.

Experian requires a PIN to unlock your account. With TransUnion, you need to provide a PIN to eliminate a phone freeze, but online, you can manage your freeze with a password-protected account. Equifax no longer requires a PIN; Instead, use an online password-protected account or provide phone identity verification information.

Offices must remove the freeze within one hour of an online or telephone request.

Children are attractive targets for identity thieves, as it can be years before anyone notices that someone has stolen a child’s identity. By law, you can freeze the credit of your children under 16 years of age. If the child does not yet have a credit record, the office will create an account and freeze it.

You must submit a written application to each office and include supporting documents, such as copies of your child’s birth certificate and driver’s license. If you are a caretaker or guardian or have a power of attorney for someone (for example, an elderly relative), you can also freeze their credit records.

Visit Kiplinger.com for more on this topic and other money related topics.

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