Freeze your credit

Getting a new credit card is really easy for those with decent credit.  Same goes for buying a new car.  This convenience comes at a price – the risk of identify theft, where other people pretend to be you to open up credit accounts such as these.  Fortunately, there’s a little-known tool available to consumers to protect them, and it’s called a Security Freeze.  Once enabled, this makes your credit report visible only to companies you already do business with.  It’s safe to say that no one will open a new account for someone pretending to be you without first viewing your credit report!  It’s a great tool to help prevent identify theft and the financial frustrations that can come with that.

What’s the catch?  Well the catch is, the big three credit reporting agencies don’t really want you to do this, as they’re in the business of helping banks open new accounts, by providing them with consumers’ credit reports upon request.  Fortunately, governments in various states and federal levels have put enough pressure on them to at least enable this feature…though if you ever do wish to apply for new credit, you’ll need to ‘thaw’ your credit report which may cost around $30-40 (depends on what state you live in, some let you do it for free) and may take a week or so, causing delays for any new credit accounts.  Small price to pay for the peace of mind this provides though.

I found the process of adding a Security Freeze to be pretty simple, and it could all be done online in a minutes.  Follow the links below, and as part of the process you’ll either receive or create a PIN…be sure to keep this number somewhere safe, for you’ll need it to thaw your credit report later on.  You’ll need to set up a Security Freeze with each of the three credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion (click those links for direct links to their Security Freeze websites).  You can also read more about this in this article at the NYTimes.

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