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Consider The Benefits Of Freezing Your Credit

By K-Staff

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Thieves and fraudsters are constantly changing tactics to gain access to your personal information. Valuable information, including social security numbers, names and birth dates, can all be used to fraudulently open accounts and abuse your credit.

A credit freeze can stop identity thieves in their tracks, no matter what information they obtain.

So, what is a credit freeze?

Every time you apply for a loan or credit card, open a bank account, apply for a job or even apply for housing, you may have your credit pulled. Each of three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) collect financial information about you into a credit report. During a credit pull, a business or organization requests this report from one of the bureaus to gauge the risk involved in extending you credit or evaluating your suitability for a job or housing.

Facts to Consider

  1. A credit freeze restricts access to your report. Without a credit report, opening accounts or using your credit becomes very difficult. It is the most potent protection available for preventing fraudsters from opening new accounts and credit in your name. A freeze does not restrict your own access to your free annual credit report.
  2. But a credit freeze has the same effect on you. You will not be able to open legitimate accounts or apply for credit once you place a credit freeze. They have the same effect on you as they do on potential thieves. 
  3. If you do need to access your credit, you can temporarily lift or “thaw” the freeze to conduct your business. Each bureau will issue a unique PIN when you freeze your credit. You will not be able to thaw the freeze without this PIN, so be sure to keep it in a safe place.
  4. Credit freezes are FREE. Following the breach of Equifax in 2017, the three major bureaus rushed to make it easier for people to secure their own credit. In the past, a fee was charged to place and remove freezes, but that is no longer the case.
  5. Certain entities will still be able to see your report. Government entities may have access due to court or administrative orders, subpoenas or search warrants. Your existing creditors (or debt collectors acting on their behalf) will also have access.
  6. You will need to place freezes individually at each of the three major credit bureaus. There is no way to simultaneously set or thaw freezes. Visit each website or give them a call to process a credit freeze or thaw. Helpful hint: When thawing a freeze, ask the business or organization that is pulling your credit report which of the three credit bureaus they use, so you only need to thaw your freeze at that particular bureau.

Equifax
Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
800-685-1111 

Experian
Experian.com/help
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

TransUnion
TransUnion.com/credit-help
888-909-8872

It’s important to note that a credit freeze will not protect you if a thief obtains access to accounts or credit you’ve already established, so be sure to keep such information and passwords/PINs private and monitor your accounts frequently with Online and Mobile Banking.

If setting a credit freeze is a little too much for you, consider at least setting a free fraud alert. A fraud alert allows access to your credit report to remain if businesses take steps to verify your identity before issuing credit or opening accounts. You may call any one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert—that bureau is legally obligated to tell the other two bureaus, and all three will place the fraud alert.

Bottom line: There is no magic solution for preventing fraud. But placing a credit freeze is one of the most effective ways to prevent thieves from establishing new accounts in your name. And, it’s free!

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Due to scheduled system maintenance, Online and Mobile Banking will be intermittently unavailable on Saturday, July 23 from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. Sunday, July 24. 

Click here for complete details.