A year ago, about 45% of Americans had their personal data stolen in the Equifax data breach. This is an absolutely STAGGERING statistic. It's also a fine good reason to to check your credit reports at each of three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to see if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Once you’ve checked your credit reports, take a few minutes to freeze your credit reports.
A credit freeze restricts access to your credit file, which helps stop hackers from opening accounts in your name. It’s fast and relatively easy. And, starting September 21, it’s totally free!
Thanks to new legislation, it won’t cost you anything to freeze your credit report at each of the three credit reporting agencies. The law also allows parents to get a free credit freeze for their children under age 16. A child's credit file would be frozen until the child is old enough to use credit. Here’s how:
Step 1. The easiest way is to head over to each of the agencies’ “security freeze” websites. (You can also submit a credit freeze request via phone or in writing.) We’ve provided the links below for your convenience.
Type in your name, address, social security number and date of birth.
Step 2. Select the security freeze option.
Step 3. Record your PIN number, which will allow you to lift and reinstate the credit freeze at later times. For instance, you’ll need this number to unfreeze your credit get a loan or apply for a mortgage.
That’s all there is to freezing your credit reports. We’ll talk about other methods of protecting yourself and your children from identity theft in future posts. In the meantime, give us a shout if we can answer any questions.
Ruth is the founder of Jackson Lee | PA, a consumer law firm recognized for slaying the toughest legal issues. In addition to being an attorney and wife of one, she's a mom to four future world-changers. Drop Ruth a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.