As cases of stolen identity continues to grow, more and more people are becoming aware of the need to protect their personal information. In the past years, people who suspect identity theft or fraud put their credit reports on fraud alert. Today however, there is a new way to protect one’s credit report against unauthorized access and that is a credit freeze.
What is Credit Freeze?
Starting November 2007, all three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion now provide consumers the option to place their credit reports on a freeze. Freezing one’s credit report means locking it from anyone who may attempt to look into it. Lenders, employers, landlords, or insurers will not be granted access when a credit report is on freeze.
In fact, even the owner of the credit report himself will not be able to tap in his own report without first “unfreezing” or lifting the “freeze”. Thus, an identity thief who may try to open a new account in your name will be immediately blocked because no one is allowed to check on your credit report.
The Cost of Freezing
However, a credit freeze may be a costly method of protecting your credit report. With every credit freeze request and each time you want to unfreeze your credit, you will need to pay $10 to $12 each credit bureau. It will also be pointless to place your credit on freeze with just one credit bureau because obviously creditors will still be able to access your report from the two other credit bureaus.
Thus, in order to work, you really have to freeze your credit with all the three credit reporting agencies. Still, consumers don’t mind paying $30 to put their credit on freeze with all the three credit bureaus as long as they know that they’re credit report is protected.
Nevertheless, although a credit freeze protects a person from creditors and other credit related companies, it does not completely solve all forms of identity theft altogether. For instance, a thief can steal your driver’s license number or your Social Security number and commit criminal acts or illegal activities in your name.
With this in mind, consumers must be aware that a credit freeze is just one way of protecting your identity. Identity thieves have many ways of stealing personal information from people. Remember that identity thieves can be anywhere and they are always looking for the right moment, even just a few seconds, to steal your precious your information. So don’t stop by just freezing your credit.
Apart from placing your credit on a freeze, you should also be vigilant about the way you handle anything that has your personal information in it (credit cards, driver’s license, passport, SSN, bank statements, ATM receipts, etc). Yes, a credit freeze can protect your credit report from identity thieves but it is up to you to protect yourself from the other strategies that identity thieves may use against you.
About the Author:
Suzy Vanstrusen is a credit analyst and a writer on the website EZCreditRepairSolutions.com. She has been providing consumers with tips and wise information about credit repair as well as helping you out more with your bad credit loans. Copyright © 2010