Anyone who has heard of identity theft and fraud should definitely be concerned about protecting his own identity. Today, when you suspect a fraud or ID theft, one can place his credit report on fraud alert to warn
all future creditors from approving new accounts in your name. However, a fraud alert is easy to ignore.
And in some cases, creditors do ignore this warning and push through with opening a new account without notifying the credit report owner.
In November 2007, credit freeze was introduced which hopes to give consumers a more reliable protection against ID theft. What is it and how does it protect one from fraud and ID theft?
Understanding Credit Freeze
A credit freeze is stricter than a fraud alert as a freeze completely locks away one’s credit report from any new inquiries made on the report. This means, no new creditors or insurers, not even landlords or employers can access your credit report. Not even you, the owner of the report can look into it while it is on a freeze. In order for your credit report to be available for inquiry, you will need first to request for the freeze to be lifted.
Obviously, any attempt to open a fraudulent account in your name is immediately blocked as no new lender will approve an account without first verifying the status of the credit report. In this case, a credit freeze is a better option than a fraud alert. Still, placing your credit on a freeze is not a reason to be relaxed in protecting your identity.
Remember that a credit freeze can only protect your credit report from inquiries by new creditors. Identity thieves have more than one way of committing fraud using stolen information. Apart from opening new accounts, they can resort to other ways of using your personal information against you. In what other ways can you strive to protect your identity? Check out the following advice:
- Be alert when using the ATM and make sure that no one is looking over your shoulder.
- Before throwing any important document in the trash, shred them into tiny pieces.
- Don’t write your important details (credit card numbers, PIN, etc) on just any sheet of paper. Write all your banking information in a logbook and keep it in a safe storage.
- Request a different credit card number from your credit card company that you can use when buying from the internet.
- Check your bank statements and access your online account regularly.
- Subscribe to the fraud protection service provided by your credit card.
- If you have any problems regarding your credit report, contact the credit bureaus immediately. To get in touch with a human customer service from any of the three credit bureaus, visit gethuman.com for a list of contact numbers.