08 September 2017

How to place a security freeze on your credit

From Krebs on Security:
If you’ve been paying attention in recent years, you might have noticed that just about everyone is losing your personal data. Even if you haven’t noticed (or maybe you just haven’t actually received a breach notice), I’m here to tell you that if you’re an American, your basic personal data is already for sale. What follows is a primer on what you can do to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft as a result of all this data (s)pillage...

If your response to this breachapalooza is to do what each of the breached organizations suggest — to take them up on one or two years’ worth of free credit monitoring services — you might sleep better at night but you will probably not be any more protected against crooks stealing your identity. As I discussed at length in this primer, credit monitoring services aren’t really built to prevent ID theft. The most you can hope for from a credit monitoring service is that they give you a heads up when ID theft does happen, and then help you through the often labyrinthine process of getting the credit bureaus and/or creditors to remove the fraudulent activity and to fix your credit score. 

In short, if you have already been victimized by identity theft (fraud involving existing credit or debit cards is not identity theft), it might be worth paying for these credit monitoring and repair services (although more than likely, you are already eligible for free coverage thanks to a recent breach at any one of dozens of companies that have lost your information over the past year). Otherwise, I’d strongly advise you to consider freezing your credit file at the major credit bureaus...

Q: What is a security freeze?
A: A security freeze essentially blocks any potential creditors from being able to view or “pull” your credit file, unless you affirmatively unfreeze or thaw your file beforehand. With a freeze in place on your credit file, ID thieves can apply for credit in your name all they want, but they will not succeed in getting new lines of credit in your name because few if any creditors will extend that credit without first being able to gauge how risky it is to loan to you (i.e., view your credit file).
Continued at the link, which I strongly recommend reading.   Those recommendations were posted several months ago, but it wasn't until yesterday that I got around to implementing them.  I used the links in the article to contact Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion.  After a couple hours of clicking and the expenditure of $10 per site, I was able to freeze my credit files.

Reposted from 2016 because of the recent cyberattack and massive security breach at Equifax.


  1. I also strongly recommend putting a credit freeze on your accounts. But a couple of cautions and a note:

    If you plan to take out a loan, for which the bank or finance company wants to check your credit, you may need to temporarily remove the credit freeze. You can open access to your credit account on one, or several of the credit agencies for from 2 weeks to 30 days. I recently had to do this to refinance a house. Each time you temporarily unfreeze your account, it will cost you from $10-20, per account. So ask the bank which credit service they take.

    If an organization is running a background check on you, such as a background check to work in a public or private school system, you may have to unfreeze your account for them. If not, you may not get the job. Similarly, if you apply for a US government security clearance.

    A security freeze is a very good, very inexpensive step to protect your credit. But when you lock your credit, you need to be aware its also locking you from increasing your credit accounts or allowing people to look at them to help verify your trustworthiness.

    Note: If you have been offered credit monitoring from a breach of personal information, you may not be able to use the credit monitoring if you have a credit freeze. My security information (I had a high level DoD security clearance) was compromised in the recent US Government Office of Personnel Management breach, along with millions of others. The government offered free credit monitoring. But to activate this, you had to remove the security freeze. Don't do that. Its sort of like saying the motion burglar alarm in your house won't work if you lock the doors, so leave them unlocked.

  2. So now these companies has you pay for them to protect your data better?

  3. I'm surprised more people don't do this. We placed a hold on ours several years ago.
    If I ever need more credit (very doubtful) I can open it up temporarily. The peace of mind is worth the money and I'm in control of it.

  4. I agree. Good security practice.

  5. equifax has set up a site https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ where you can enter some personal info to see if you were hacked. when i go there, the firefox browser tells me that: "Your connection is not secure The owner of www.equifaxsecurity2017.com has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website."



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