Monday, March 3, 2014

Credit Freezing and Thawing as Protection from ID Theft

I recently had a CEBI member mention to that we should be on the alert for potential I.D. theft and that there is an effective tool for mitigating our risk for this to happen.  Credit freezes are one of the most effective tools available against economic I.D. theft available to consumers.  There are three major credit monitoring and reporting agencies from which your credit history and ratings are obtained:

1. Equifax
2. Experian
3. Transunion

Freezing your credit with each of these allow you to seal your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can use to temporarily "thaw" your credit so that legitimate applications for credit and services can be processed.  That added layer of security means that thieves can't establish new credit in your name even if they are able to obtain your I.D.

Freezing your credit files has no impact whatsoever on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards.  You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

The cost ranges from $3 - $10 per bureau to freeze your credit and somewhere between free and $10 to thaw your credit for a specific period of time.

If your credit reports are accessed often for work or because you create new accounts with various financial institutions on a regular basis, it is not suggested that you freeze your accounts.  The cost to "thaw" your accounts would tend to be excessive.

For more on this topic and instructions from each of the bureaus on how to "freeze" or "thaw" your credit accounts, click on the following link.

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Kevin Minton
Chief Executive Boards International

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