Hacks and breaches and theft! Oh my!
So in our day and age its almost inevitable that if you live a normal life and utilize many of the services we all do that your personal identifying information will be hacked or stolen at some point. The internet has become more secure over time but in the end it was built in a fundamentally insecure way, add on top of that just dumb human error and you know that we will be facing these kind of breaches of our personal information forever. So what is the average person to do about such a bleak outlook? Take heart! There is a relatively easy way to create a strong defense against criminals and evil doers!!!
Freeze your credit!
So what does that mean? Well the three credit companies, Transunion, Experian, and Equifax collect your data and create a financial score that lets lenders and others know how likely you are to default on making a payment (its not perfect but it works better than nothing for them). This score is your “credit score”. One of the major issues with all the hacks of personal information is that criminals can get all the information they need to impersonate you and take out a loan in your name. So if you could eliminate that possibility you eliminate a lot of the downside to having that information floating around on the darknet. That’s where freezing your credit comes into the picture. Each of the credit companies allows you to shut off access to your credit report, that means that anyone applying for a loan in your name would get shut down right out of the gate. Even if they have all your information, including your Social security number, they will be prevented from letting a lender run a credit check, which is required nearly 100% of the time by anyone providing a loan.
Below are the three website links…
In order to add this defense to your financial fortress, go to each of the sites and sign up for a login. Keep your information safe and accessible or it could become a real hassle when you want to turn off the credit freeze. I personally have had my credit frozen for many years now. In the past it cost money to manage the freeze but now its free on all the credit sites, which makes it even more valuable.
Once you have logged in, you can place your freeze on each of the three site, from then on you can sleep a little better at night knowing that identity theft is less of a risk to you. When the time comes for you to apply for a loan you will need to visit each of the sites (or if you know which one the lender will be using just that one) and unfreeze your credit. Each of the sites have a nice feature where you can unfreeze it for a set period of time and then it will go right back to frozen no forgetting on your part. If you are applying for a simple loan like a credit card or auto loan you may only need to unfreeze for a few days to a week, but if you are going through a mortgage process you may want to go longer. You can ask your lender how long they may need to do what they need to do.
So in short, when do you do a credit freeze? There is no time like today! I have found no downside other than the 5 minute hassle of unfreezing temporarily when I apply for a loan.
So that’s it, pretty simple and honestly a major defense in your financial life.