When a Credit Freeze Makes Sense

creditfreezeThe credit bureaus just removed all fees from the credit freeze process. To protect myself, I implemented a credit freeze about a year ago. I can unlock it when I need to make a purchase (and now there is no fee to do this), and I am not at a stage in my life where I need to open new credit accounts.

For those of you caring for someone with dementia, this could add a layer of protection against any concerns of fraud.  Before you put a credit freeze on your account, set up your online account with Social Security. Once you implement a credit freeze, you won’t be able to do this online with social security — because it basically freezes the ability to use your social security number. At least that is how they explained it to me because I froze my credit, THEN tried to set up  my online access. I can still do it but have to come into the local social security office. Mea Culpa!

Freezing your credit is free. However, as you go through the process they will try to sell you additional services and notifications. I’m a little appalled that they expect me to pay for a service to notify me when my credit card number is found on the “dark web” since I believe this should be part of the service my credit card company manages to protect me as a card holder.

In general, if you are looking at your bank and credit statements and checking the mail, you shouldn’t need additional services. However, if you have a loved one with dementia who is still managing on their own, putting this in place might be a second line of defense against fraud or scams.

A credit freeze doesn’t protect against fraudulent charges against an existing account (you still have monitor bills and statements) nor ensure that someone doesn’t try to file a fraudulent tax return.  But it does offer a layer of protection against accessing your credit.

If you decide to freeze credit, you will need to unlock it should they later consider moving into a care community.

To start the freeze process, you will need to contact the big three bureaus:

Equifax: Visit this site to start the process: https://my.equifax.com/consumer-registration/UCSC/#/personal-info

Securian: To request your free security freeze, visit Experian’s Freeze Center or call 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) and provide the required information.

Transunion: Visit this site to start the process: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze

I think anything you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones is a advisable.  However, we all have different levels of comfort, and you need to do what is right for you and your loved ones. Shared. 

Take Control of Your Credit Now.

CreditfraudfreezeGiven the number of breeches, especially for a loved one that doesn’t need to open a line of credit, it’s time to either put a FRAUD ALERT or a SECURITY (Credit) FREEZE in place.

Fraud Alert tells creditors they need to take reasonable extra-steps to confirm that it is you asking for credit. It lasts for 90 days and includes a free credit report.

Security Freeze locks your credit and requires action (and for now $10 to lift the freeze or re-freeze it) on your part to access credit. It took me about 30 minutes to do it online for all three. Be forewarned, you will have to be able to bring up past credit history and addresses — which is why I am an advocate of having one place for writing it all down. A great tool (it’s my book) can be found on Amazon.

I choose to use a Security Freeze for myself since I don’t foresee many situations in which I will be applying for credit in the coming years. Here are some links to each of three big bureaus:

Equifax Link to Freeze your credit: https://www.freeze.equifax.com

Experian Security Freeze: https://www.freeze.equifax.com ($10.00 fee)

Transunion Security Freeze: https://www.transunion.com/ ($10.00 fee)

Watch out for the upsell. Many of the sites will try to get you to buy their monitoring services. I don’t recommend those because I have found they just make you more concerned and the truth is that you have the ability to put the protections in place for free or a minimal cost.

To view the story on the report from Consumer Reports, click here.

Please let me know what you chose and what you found if you initiated one of these services. Protected.