Protect Yourself from Identity Thieves with a Security Credit Freeze

Blue frozen bank credit card in ice blockWhen people run into financial trouble, they seldom know how to act and what their options are. You may have found yourself in a situation where you didn’t have any idea how to proceed. One common situation that many people find themselves in is identify left. Hackers and thieves have found many different avenues of infiltration. If you’ve ever signed up with a reputable bank or other financial institution, it’s likely that your personal information is stored on the institution’s servers.

Sources of Identity Theft

Even though large banks have firewalls and other security measures, hackers continually find new ways to infiltrate security systems. Moreover, it may not be the bank that has been compromised. It may be the case that your own computer or the network you’re currently connected to that has been compromised in some way. Even outside the realm of the internet, there are ways for thieves to glean information from mail, bills, financial statements and a host of other sources.

What is a Credit Freeze

If your identity was recently stolen, you should immediately initiate a credit freeze. A credit freeze will inform credit bureaus that your identity, and therefore credit, has been compromised. If anyone, including you, tries to sign up for a new credit line, including mortgages, loans, payday advances and credit cards, the credit bureaus will ensure that the credit line will not be opened. If you want to open a new credit line yourself, you will need to inform all three major credit bureaus of your intentions by thawing (temporarily removing) the security freeze.

Does it Cost Money?

There are currently nine states that allow free credit freezes for consumers; Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, New Mexico, and South Carolina. All fifty states and the District of Columbia offer credit freezes to consumers, although not all of them are free and there are certain provisions for each state. For example, states like Mississippi, Wisconsin, and South Dakota only allow “victims of identity theft” to freeze their credit. This usually requires that the consumer provide some evidence that identity theft did, in fact, occur.

It is important to note that just because your credit is frozen, that doesn’t mean your identity is protected. You will still have to go through the proper channels to ensure that your identity is covered and protected. Moreover, freezing your credit will not stop fraudulent purchases using your existing credit, or your information from being leaked either. Freezing your credit is merely the first step in protecting yourself from the identity thieves.

Posted on October 4, 2017 by in Credit Monitoring

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