How to Prevent Identity Theft (From Someone Who’s Been Through It)

My name is Tiffani Sherman. The real Tiffani Sherman. Not the one who recently applied for unemployment benefits, an SBA COVID loan, five credit cards, a payday advance, two loans, and opened two bank accounts.

That wasn’t me.

It also wasn’t me back in early 2019 who ordered a bunch of expensive stuff online and then changed the shipping addresses, drained rewards points accounts to buy gift cards, hijacked Amazon and eBay accounts, and monitored and deleted emails for weeks.

For the second time in two years, I’m dealing with the fallout of identity theft.

Trust me, it isn’t fun.

I’m having to prove I didn’t apply for all of these things and that is taking a lot of my time and energy.

I’m not alone, which doesn’t make me feel all that much better.

Identity Theft Is Down, but the Damage Is Worse Than Ever

According to the The 2020 Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy & Research released in May 2020, losses from identity fraud totaled $16.9 billion, which was up 15% from the year before.

According to the report, instances of fraud are falling but the damage they are doing is increasing. Thieves are shifting from fraudulent credit card changes to account takeovers. This kind of thing yields more, is more complex to prevent, and takes longer to fix.

Most of the damage happens within a short period of time. The Javelin research says 40% of the activity usually happens within a day.

With my latest go-around, all of the applications were completed within less than 72 hours.

“It’s a very rapid period of time because eventually they’re going to experience some friction,” said John Buzzard, fraud and security analyst for Javelin Strategy & Research. “They have a small working window of time to really do that total takeover.”

How Did Scammers Get My Data?

Almost everyone who heard about my ID theft problems asked me how people got my data.

I honestly don’t know. I do know I was part of several high profile data breaches, but who knows if that was it or not.

Scamicide founder Steven Weisman, a nationally recognized expert on identity theft, scams and cybersecurity, says most identity theft happens in one of two ways.

The first is when we accidentally give out our data. “We may have clicked on a link in a text message or an email that had keystroke logging malware that stole the information from our phone or our computer or we may have been tricked into giving personal information over the phone to someone,” he said.

We all get those calls and emails where the person says they work for a computer giant and noticed a problem with your computer, or they’re from the government and they need your Social Security number. Some of them can sound pretty ominous, so it’s easy to fall for them.

Also, think about how many places ask for information like your Social Security number and date of birth.

“Just because somebody asks you for information, that doesn’t mean you have to give it to them and that’s just something people don’t understand,” Buzzard said.

Recently, a grocery store employee asked for his Social Security number when he applied for a store rewards card. “I said, no, I’m sorry. You can have my cell phone number if you need an identifier. If you need a Social, we’re done here. You’re a grocery store, not exactly a high level security operation. The person folded, put in my cell, and off I went with my rewards card.”

The other way scammers get your data is through hackers.

“No matter how good you are at protecting your personal information we’re only as safe as the places with the weakest security,” Weisman said. “With so many people working remotely these days, people are going to be hacked at home and then through them, [hackers] will get at the networks of the companies for which they work. I think we’re going to have a massive amount of major data breaches.”

Then the information becomes like pieces of a puzzle.

“It’s like a patchwork quilt,” Buzzard said. “You pop somebody’s information in and you play around with it.”

A woman stands in her backyard with green plants around her and a white fence behind her.
Sherman doesn’t know how scammers got her data. Recommended ways to protect yourself from identity theft include setting up alerts, checking your monthly billing statements and using digital wallets. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

7 Ways to Make It Hard for Scammers to Use Your Data

Since much of this is basically out of our control, there are some things you can do to make it a bit more difficult for a scammer to use your data if and when they get it.

1. Protect Your Credit

Thieves make easy money with your credit either by charging things on existing cards or opening new credit cards. Either way, they charge a bunch and leave the unsuspecting victim with the bill and damage to their credit.

Even though you’re not responsible for fraudulent charges on your credit cards, the hassle you go through to remove the charges is worth taking steps to prevent it.

  • Check your bills: Look at monthly statements and report any charges you do not recognize.
  • Set up alerts: Most credit card companies let you set up text or email alerts whenever your card is used. If an alert every time is too much, you can often change the settings to let you know if a card is used without the physical card being present, or if a charge is higher than a certain amount. I’ve received several notifications that have let me know someone was up to no good, and I was able to quickly report it and cancel the cards.
  • Remove saved payment methods: I know it’s convenient to not have to type in your credit card every time you order something, but having a saved payment method makes it easy for someone who gains access to an online account to do a lot of damage very quickly. This is what burned me in 2019 when someone gained access to my Amazon, eBay and other accounts and bought several things using my card.
  • Use digital wallets: This type of technology uses encrypted and tokenized data so if someone steals it, it is worthless to them.

2. Freeze Your Credit

Both Weisman and Buzzard said the most important thing to do is freeze your credit. Doing this should stop anyone from opening credit accounts using your information.

When someone wants to open a credit card or get a loan, the institution needs to check the applicant’s credit history to know if they are worth the risk or not.

When you have a credit freeze, nobody can access your credit history, so financial institutions will not be able to get the information they need to open an account. This becomes important when a scammer tries to use your personal information to open a fraudulent account. The freeze will automatically stop the account from being opened.

If you want to legitimately open a line of credit, all you need to do is temporarily unfreeze your credit. Just remember to freeze it again.

Each bureau operates separately, so freezing one does not freeze them all, as I found out the hard way. After my issues in 2019, I thought I had frozen all of my credit, but it turns out everything was not frozen. That’s how the scammers were able to do so much damage this go-around.

I think it should be easier to freeze your credit and protect yourself from identity theft. Weisman agrees. However, the bureaus make money by gathering your information and selling it to lenders.

“If you freeze your credit, [the bureaus] can’t sell the access to your credit,” Weisman said. “Freezing your credit makes you less valuable to the credit reporting agencies.”

Since Equifax had a huge breach a few years ago, freezing and unfreezing credit is free.

Everyone’s credit is separate, so a couple needs to each freeze their credit individually. Freezing one does not freeze the other’s. Also, parents can freeze the credit of their minor children.

Even with your credit frozen, check each bureau’s credit reports periodically to make sure nothing has gotten through. Also, check to make sure everything is still frozen.

This illustration shows a woman typing in her saved password.
Getty Images

3. Protect Passwords and Personal Information

Part of my problem in 2019 was that someone got hold of several of my passwords, including the email account I used for most of my logins and online commerce. I admit, at the time I was less than vigilant about having a different password for anything and everything. Trust me, that has changed.

As I said, lots of my information including several website and password combinations were part of several well-known data breaches that have happened during the past few years. During these breaches, fraudsters hacked into databases and got the info.

Then they sold that information on the dark web or in other ways. One of those other methods is something called a combolist service (CaaS), which is increasing in popularity. People pay a monthly fee for lists of updated and stolen credentials and personal information that is accessible in the cloud.

I looked and lots of my information is unfortunately part of these combolists.

Once the information is out there, it’s impossible to remove it, so all you can really do is change your passwords and keep changing them regularly.

If you forget a password, you can usually reset it by answering some security questions. These present their own set of problems because often the answers are things people can easily find out about you.

“The easy way around this is there is absolutely no rule that says you have to answer your security questions honestly,” Weisman said. “You can have really what seems like vulnerable security question like my banks, which is what’s my mother’s maiden name, but I can put down that my mother’s maiden name was firetruck or grapefruit, or something equally ridiculous. And the good thing there is, you will remember that security question, because it’s just so ridiculous and no one is ever going to be able to crack that.”

As for those password vaults, security experts are mixed about them. One remediation expert I talked with to help me with my issues said she doesn’t like them because if someone breaches the vault, they have access to everything. Other people say they are a good way to make sure you have strong passwords for everything.

4. Don’t Give Out Information on Social Media

I just saw a post on a friend’s social media page saying the song that was most popular the week you turned 14 defines who you are. It also defines the year you were born to any online scammer who is looking for that important piece of information.

The same goes for quizzes that talk about favorite pets, first cars, favorite teachers, school mascots, etc. Seeing those types of things now makes me cringe. Many people are making it way too easy for scammers.

5. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Enabling two-factor authentication is also important. If someone tries to log into your account, the vendor will send a one-time code either to the email address or phone number on file.

“Data breaches will happen,” Weisman said. “People will make mistakes and fall for a spear phishing email and suddenly they may have had their usernames and passwords turned over. So you always want to have dual factor authentication whenever you can so even if someone has your username and password, they can’t access your account.”

Just make sure you protect your phone also by enabling its security features.

To save you the hassle of having to receive a code each time you want to log into your own accounts, some websites will allow you to save devices so the next time you log in, it will remember that device’s IP address and allow the login without the extra security.

Be wary of any email, phone call, or text you receive saying something has been compromised and to click on a link or call a number to reset it. Instead of clicking on the link, go to the website or app itself and reset the password directly from there.

A man uses face recondition to get into his phone.
Getty Images

6. Secure Devices

We live for our devices. They’re our constant companion and contain our whole lives. Protect them.

  • Update operating systems and security software: Companies issue updates once they identify a vulnerability a hacker could exploit. Sadly, this isn’t always foolproof. “Even if you get the most up to date security software, it’s always going to be about a month behind the latest what we call zero date defects,” Weisman said.
  • Install malware protection: Malware is short for malicious software and it is basically anything that can harm or exploit a device. There are many different kinds. Often, it finds its way on to our devices because we click on a malicious link or open an attachment that unleashes the software. Don’t forget to protect your phone.
  • Secure Wi-Fi connections: Make sure you secure your wireless router and change the password on it.
  • Secure IoT items: It’s true. Your refrigerator may be spying on you. Many things in your home connect to the internet and can provide access to your network and other items on it which can contain personal information.

Weisman suggests taking one more step to secure your phone which is locking your number. This way, a scammer can’t transfer your phone number to another carrier.

Think about it. With many two-factor authentication codes coming to your phone, if someone had your personal information AND took control of your phone number, you wouldn’t get your codes. They would.

Locking my number was easy to do from my provider’s app. If I ever want to change cell providers, I can use the app to create a temporary  PIN to allow the change.

7. Don’t Rely on Protection Services

There are many services out there that say they will protect you from identity theft.

Weisman is not a huge fan because they don’t usually protect you. They just alert you sooner.

“I liken them to crossing a street and I get hit by a bus and someone runs out into the street and tells me, ‘Hey you just got hit by a bus,’” Weisman said. “That’s what the identity theft protection services are doing. They’re telling you sooner that you’ve been victimized. They don’t do anything to protect you from becoming a victim.”

Since most of the personal information out there comes from data breaches, phishing emails, etc., it isn’t possible to totally prevent the theft of personal information. The best we can do is attempt to control what the scammers can do once they get it.

My friends keep asking me if I stopped everything. Sadly, I cannot answer that question. The flurry of attempts to open new accounts seems to have calmed for now, but I’m waiting for the next round.

It’s a helpless feeling.

Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel and other topics.

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Identity Thieves Bought a New Car in Her Name—Here’s How She’s Fighting It

September 25, 2017 &• 6 min read by Kat Tretina Comments 0 Comments

div#contentdisclaimer background: #fff;padding: 1.5em;line-height: 1.25em;max-width: 500px;
Advertiser Disclosure

Disclaimer

Jen* is one of the few people that opens and reads every piece of mail they receive. It’s a quirk that has paid off: A piece of junk mail is how Jen found out someone had stolen her identity.

“I opened a letter from Macy’s, which I thought was weird,” she said. “I haven’t shopped there in years. But the letter was a rejection of a credit card application.”

#animation-wrapper max-width: 450px; margin: 0 auto; width: auto; height: 600px; font-family: ProximaNova-Regular, Arial, sans-serif; #animation-wrapper .box background: linear-gradient(#0095D8, #1D4BB6); color: #fff; text-align: center; font-family: ProximaNova-Regular, Arial, sans-serif; height: 130px; padding-top: 10px; .content .box p margin: 0 0; .box .btn-primary color: #fff; background-color: #ff7f00; margin: 10px 0; .chat ul margin: 0; padding: 0; list-style: none; .message-left .message-time display: block; font-size: 12px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px; padding-top: 4px; color: #ccc; font-family: Courier; .message-right .message-time display: block; font-size: 12px; text-align: right; padding-right: 20px; padding-top: 4px; color: #ccc; font-family: Courier; .message-left text-align: left; margin-bottom: 6px; .message-left .message-text max-width: 80%; display: inline-block; background: #0095D8; padding: 8px 15px; font-size: 14px; color: #fff; border-radius: 30px; font-weight: 100; line-height: 1.5em; .message-right text-align: right; margin-bottom: 6px; .message-right .message-text line-height: 1.5em; display: inline-block; background: #1D4BB6; padding: 8px 15px; font-size: 14px; color: #fff; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.5em; font-weight: 100; text-align: left; .chat background: #fff; margin: 0; border-radius: 0; .chat-container height: 450px; padding: 5px 15px; overflow: hidden; .spinme-right display: inline-block; padding: 15px 20px; font-size: 14px; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.25em; font-weight: 100; opacity: .2; .spinme-left display: inline-block; padding: 15px 20px; font-size: 14px; color: #ccc; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.25em; font-weight: 100; opacity: .2; .spinner margin: 0; width: 30px; text-align: center; .spinner>div width: 10px; height: 10px; border-radius: 100%; display: inline-block; -webkit-animation: sk-bouncedelay 1.4s infinite ease-in-out both; animation: sk-bouncedelay 1.4s infinite ease-in-out both; background: #000; .spinner .bounce1 -webkit-animation-delay: -.32s; animation-delay: -.32s; .spinner .bounce2 -webkit-animation-delay: -.16s; animation-delay: -.16s; @-webkit-keyframes sk-bouncedelay 0%, 100%, 80% -webkit-transform: scale(0); 40% -webkit-transform: scale(1); @keyframes sk-bouncedelay 0%, 100%, 80% -webkit-transform: scale(0); transform: scale(0); 40% -webkit-transform: scale(1); transform: scale(1); .ad-container padding: 15px 30px; background-color: #fff; max-width: 690px; box-shadow: 1px 1px 4px #888; margin: 20px auto; .ad padding: 10px 6px; max-width: 630px; .ad-title font-size: 20px; color: #07b; line-height: 22px; margin-bottom: 6px; letter-spacing: -.32px; .ad-link line-height: 18px; padding-left: 26px; position: relative; .ad-link::before content: ‘Ad’; color: #006621; font-size: 10px; width: 21px; line-height: 12px; padding: 2px 0; text-align: center; border: 1px solid #006621; border-radius: 4px; box-sizing: border-box; display: inline-block; position: absolute; left: 0; .ad-link a color: #006621; text-decoration: none; font-size: 14px; line-height: 14px; .ad-copy color: #000; font-size: 14px; line-height: 18px; letter-spacing: -.34px; margin-top: 6px; display: inline-block; .ad .breaker font-size: 0; .box .box-desc font-family: ProximaNova-Bold, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 17px; font-weight: 600; width: 225px; margin: 0 auto; .btn display: inline-block; margin-bottom: 0; font-weight: 400; text-align: center; vertical-align: middle; touch-action: manipulation; cursor: pointer; background-image: none; border: 1px solid transparent; white-space: nowrap; padding: 6px 12px; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.428571429; border-radius: 4px; -webkit-user-select: none; -moz-user-select: none; -ms-user-select: none; user-select: none; font-family: ProximaNova-Semibold, Arial, sans-serif; text-decoration: none; .btn-group-lg>.btn, .btn-lg padding: 10px 16px; font-size: 18px; line-height: 1.3333333; border-radius: 6px; #ad-4 font-family: Arial, sans-serif; background-color: #fff; #ad-4 .ad-title color: #2130ab; #animation-wrapper .cta-ec background: #79af3e; color: #fff; width: 155px; height: 41px; font-family: ProximaNova-Semibold, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; margin: 10px auto 4px auto; #animation-wrapper .ec-logo display: block; margin: 0 auto; width: 140px; @media (max-width:500px) .ad padding: 20px 18px; max-width: 630px;

  • I just watched a documentary on the dark web, and I will never feel safe using my credit card again!
  • Luckily I don’t have to worry about that. I have ExtraCredit, so I get $1,000,000 ID protection and dark web scans.
  • I need that peace of mind in my life. What else do you get with ExtraCredit?
  • It’s basically everything my credit needs. I get 28 FICO® scores, rent and utility reporting, cash rewards and even a discount to one of the leaders in credit repair.
  • It’s settled; I’m getting ExtraCredit tonight. Totally unrelated, but any suggestions for my new fear of sharks? I watched that documentary too.
  • …we live in Oklahoma.

Get everything you need to master your credit today.

Get started

Jen took immediate action, placing a credit freeze on her accounts. She thought it was all resolved then, but her identity theft nightmare was just beginning.

The Depth of the Identity Theft Problem

Jen checks her free credit report every four months. After finding the Macy’s rejection letter, she immediately checked her report again.

There were several credit inquiries for loans and credit cards that she had not made. Banks and lenders had rejected all of them. However, there was one item on the report that had been approved: a car loan for a $30,000 vehicle.

“The thief applied for a loan through an online company, which is much easier than applying for a loan in someone’s name in person,” Jen said. “She picked up a used Lexus the next day. She used my Social Security number but didn’t use my actual last name. The company still didn’t bat an eye.”

The thief even took out a car insurance policy in Jen’s name. Again, the thief applied for an account online for easier approval.

Beyond Credit—How Theft Affects You

“There were about a dozen inquiries on my credit report besides the car loan, all of which hurt my credit score,” said Jen. “And, the thief didn’t make payments on the insurance or the car, which could have hurt my credit too. I had to take action right away.”

Jen then filed a police report. An officer came to her home, and she handed over copies of her credit report with all of the fraudulent inquiries. Because it was a financial matter, the officer handed the case off to a different department.

Once Jen had a copy of the police report, she took action rather than waiting for the police to work it out. Luckily, her employer offered a free identity protection service through InfoArmor. She called the company, and representatives assigned her a case manager. Together, Jen and the case manager made a list of every false inquiry on Jen’s report and started contacting the companies one by one to have them removed.

“There were inquiries for store credit cards, phone companies, furniture stores, and car loans,” said Jen. “All of them were at places in California, and I’m thousands of miles away from there.”

The process couldn’t be completed in one day. The thief had taken information from Jen’s LinkedIn profile to verify employment dates on applications, and the person’s actions changed her security questions on the credit bureau sites as well.

Jen’s credit report now showed the thief’s address and other information instead of her own, so she couldn’t dispute the charges online. Instead, she had to call each business herself and prove her identity.

Most of the companies’ customer service departments were available only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., when Jen was at work. “I had to squeeze in calls on my lunch break and every spare minute I had,” she said.

Over the course of two months, Jen spent over 80 hours on the phone to dispute charges and inquiries. There were times when she was on the phone for five hours straight. Despite the long hours, she values the identity protection service for helping her handle it.

“[The case manager] was on the phone with me for the full time,” she said. “He helped me keep it together and work through the list of companies.”

Other Financial Ramifications of Identity Theft

Although the phone calls were tedious and incredibly time consuming, there were larger issues that Jen hadn’t even considered. Her InfoArmor case manager helped her navigate those problems as well.

“I could never have thought of it all on my own,” she said. “But he told me I needed to alert my 401(k) company, my mortgage lender, and my credit union account so [the thief] couldn’t access those accounts too.”

Worst of all, the problem still isn’t over. The car loan has been removed from her credit report, but other inquiries remain. Jen also worries about future issues, such as the thief filing a fraudulent tax return in her name to get a tax refund.

“I’m worried about my taxes,” she said. “It’s a real stressor. I contacted the IRS, but I’m still concerned.”

She has every reason to worry. Despite now having the thief’s full name and address, the police have not yet arrested or charged the individual. Instead, the investigation is ongoing thousands of miles away.

Advice for Dealing with ID Theft

Thanks to Jen’s hard work, her credit score has recovered since the identity theft. She notes that not everyone could handle identity theft as quickly as she did, nor does everyone have the means.

“It was time consuming and tedious, but it was also expensive,” she said. “I had to pay to FedEx documents across the country, to put a credit freeze on my account, and to have access to a fax machine—most of the documents couldn’t be emailed because of security concerns, so faxing them was the only way.”

In addition, Jen said that her employer and coworkers were understanding as she navigated the process. In many workplaces, taking personal calls during work wouldn’t be possible. Other people might have had to take time off from work to deal with identity theft, hurting their paycheck.

For those who face a similar situation, Jen recommends you do the following:

  • Take diligent notes and keep them nearby. Every credit inquiry Jen disputed had its own case number, and because she sometimes had to wait days for a response, Jen had to move quickly when she did get a response. Keeping a notebook handy with every case number, the date and time of each call, and who she spoke to last helped her stay on top of the issue.
  • Check your credit report. Jen caught the problem early, which saved her credit and finances. It’s a smart idea to check your credit report every four months for red flags.
  • Consider hiring a service. While Jen was able to get identity protection for free, she says she would have willingly paid for it. Her case manager helped her through every phone call and identified other actions she needed to take to protect herself.
  • Give yourself a break. Dealing with endless phone calls and the stress of identity theft can be hard on your nerves and well-being. Jen advises giving yourself a break every now and again and indulge in some self-care.

Moving Forward after Theft

Jen doesn’t know how the thief got her Social Security number or name, especially because she’s diligent about protecting sensitive information. However, she suspects it’s from medical forms from her frequent doctor appointments, as they all required her to enter her Social Security number, address, birthday, and other identifying information—making her an easy target for identity theft.

“Unfortunately—and the police said the same thing—people take those forms and sell them on the black market for others to use,” she said. “It’s made me much more conscious of what I put out there.”

Jen’s story isn’t an anomaly. A whopping 41 million Americans have experienced identity theft. That’s why it’s so important to continually and regularly check your credit report.

“You have to stay on it to prevent your name and credit report from being ruined,” Jen said. “Be diligent.”

*Because the investigation into this situation is ongoing, the individual featured asked that we not use her real name.

Image: istock


Sign up now.

Source: credit.com

How To Freeze Your Credit After The Equifax Hack

128 Shares

A while back I heard some alarming news that one of the 3 credit bureaus, Equifax, had been the victim of a hacking attack.

While it’s always alarming when any company you use is hacked, when one of the credit reporting agencies themselves are attacked, it means the possibility for mischief are that much greater.

Not only do the bureaus have a large volume of data about your credit lives in their systems, they also have some very sensitive information that you don’t want out there.

They have information like your Social Security Number, addresses, drivers license numbers, credit card numbers and more. All of that can be used against you for years should the hackers decide to open fraudulent accounts in your name, claim fraudulent tax refunds and more.

With so many people affected by this hack it is more important than ever to pay close attention to your credit, and protect yourself against fraud.

Today I want to look at what you can do to protect yourself, and how to freeze your credit with all three agencies so that you can avoid becoming a victim.

Quick Navigation

NYTimes:

Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies, said on Thursday that hackers had gained access to company data that potentially compromised sensitive information for 143 million American consumers, including Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. The attack on the company represents one of the largest risks to personally sensitive information in recent years, and is the third major cybersecurity threat for the agency since 2015.

Equifax, based in Atlanta, is a particularly tempting target for hackers. If identity thieves wanted to hit one place to grab all the data needed to do the most damage, they would go straight to one of the three major credit reporting agencies. “This is about as bad as it gets,” said Pamela Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit research group. “If you have a credit report, chances are you may be in this breach. The chances are much better than 50 percent.”

In addition to the other material, hackers were also able to retrieve names, birth dates and addresses. Credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers were stolen, while documents with personal information used in disputes for 182,000 people were also taken.

Let that sink in folks. If you have a credit report, your chances of being affected by this breach are better than 50%. That means, it is time to take precautionary measures.

How To Check If You’re Affected By The Equifax Hack

Equifax Hack Are You Impacted

Equifax Hack Are You ImpactedEquifax has launched a website that tells you how to figure out whether your credit was affected, and what next steps to take. To figure out if your credit file was affected, go to their website here:

The site will ask for some identifying information (including last name and last 6 digits of Social Security Number), and after you confirm you’re not a robot, it will tell you if you’re affected.

One thing that should be noted, Equifax at time of publication was offering complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services, but as some users have mentioned, when you sign up for the service you are required to accept their terms of service which includes precluding yourself from participating in any class actions.

Some have suggested you may be better off just implementing a credit freeze, and using an alternate free credit monitoring service. I’ll mention a couple down at the bottom of the page.

What The FTC Suggests Doing In Light Of The Equifax Breach

The FTC lists some steps that they say you should take in light of a breach like the one at Equifax.

  • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
  • Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
  • If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
  • File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.

So check your credit reports for free through the government site, place a freeze on your credit, monitor your existing accounts and make sure to file your taxes early so you don’t have attempted tax fraud like I did last year.

Filing A Claim In The Equifax Settlement

The FTC announced a settlement agreement with Equifax in July of 2019 for the breach. The agreement with the credit agency was for 700 million dollars.

So what does that mean for you?

If you were affected by the hack and can show how you lost money, you could be entitled to collect up to $20,000.

For most people that probably didn’t happen, but even if you didn’t suffer a loss, you may still be entitled to the following benefits if you were a victim of the breach:

  • 10 years of free credit monitoring or cash payment (If you already have credit monitoring through Credit Sesame, Credit Karma or another service you can receive up to $125 cash instead)
  • Reimbursement for the time you took putting in place preventative measures to deal with the breach. You could be entitled to $25/hr for up to 20 hours. That would include time spent putting credit freezes on your accounts, etc.

Since I was affected by the breach, and spent a couple of hours researching and putting in place credit freezes, I claimed 2 hours of reimbursement, along with $125 for credit monitoring.

To find out if you were affected by the breach and might be eligible to submit a claim, go to this website.

If you find that you are in fact eligible to submit a claim, you can do that through this page on the Equifax Breach Settlement site.

The claims deadline is 1/22/2020, so claims cannot be paid out until after that date.

A Fraud Alert Vs. Credit Lock Vs. Credit Freeze

There are a few things you can do when it comes to putting a hold on your credit. You can either place a temporary fraud alert on your credit reports, you can use a credit agency’s “credit lock” tool on your credit file, or you can place a permanent credit freeze (also known as a “security freeze”) on your report.

A credit freeze locks down your credit so that it can’t be accessed, a fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity.

A credit lock is a relatively new feature offered by the credit agencies that is similar to a credit freeze, but it allows you to turn the lock on and off via an app or website.  The problem is that it doesn’t offer as many legal protections as a credit freeze, which has protections mandated by law, while a credit lock often comes baked in with arbitration agreements, and more. If choosing between a credit lock and credit freeze, opt for the credit freeze.

For fraud alerts, there are three types of fraud alerts you can get.  An initial fraud alert which is good for 90 days, an extended fraud alert of 7 years for victims of identity theft, or active duty military fraud alerts, for those who want to protect their credit while on active duty or deployed.

A fraud alert is free to put in place, and once you place a fraud alert with one company, that company must tell the other credit reporting agencies.  If you’re not sure you want to place a complete freeze on your credit, putting a fraud alert on your account now might be a decent, albeit less effective, alternative.

Place A Fraud Alert

How To Freeze Your Credit

Let’s say you don’t just want to place a fraud alert on your credit file since creditors can still access your file. If you want to do a complete lockdown on your credit and restrict access to your credit report altogether, you can put in place a credit freeze.

A credit freeze will not affect your credit score, and won’t keep you from getting new credit accounts as you can temporarily lift the freeze to get new credit. It simply restricts access to your credit report unless you give notice to allow access.

Freeze Your Credit For Free With The Big 3 Credit Agencies (And 1 Additional Agency)

To freeze your credit, go to each of the agencies and fill out their forms.  It’s now free to do.

In the past freezing your credit was not typically free with the three big agencies. A freeze could cost between $5-10 in most cases.

As of Sept. 21, 2018, however, freezing your credit is now free in all 50 states as is mandated by federal law. 

Once you place your credit freeze the credit reporting company may send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN number or password. Keep that PIN in a safe place as you’ll need it to lift the freeze in the future.

Lifting A Credit Freeze

A credit freeze will remain in place until you ask the credit reporting agency to temporarily lift or remove it. Once you make the request to lift a freeze the new law mandates that credit freeze be lifted in less than 1 hour.   Just to be careful, however, you may want to plan ahead and lift the freeze a few days in advance just in case something happens.

If you’re lifting the credit freeze because you’re applying for credit or a job, you can often find out which reporting agency the business will contact, and lift the freeze only with that company to save money.

Always Monitor Your Credit

When it comes down to it, you’re the best person to be keeping tabs on your own credit. And if you get a little help doing it via a credit monitoring service or government site, so be it.

  • Check your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com: This free service will allow you to check your credit report from each of the 3 big credit bureaus once per year. Stagger checking them every 4 months like I do and you’ll have a better chance of finding problems or fraud accounts being opened.
  • Sign up for free credit monitoring services: Sign up for credit monitoring services with free sites like Credit Sesame and Credit Karma. They’ll send you alerts when changes  are made to your credit file, keeping you up to date on what’s going on with your credit.
  • Put a freeze on your credit: Put a freeze on your credit through the pages linked above, and ensure that new accounts aren’t opened using your name and information. It’s now free to do so there’s no reason not to do it.
  • Keep tabs on your existing accounts: Make sure to keep tabs on your existing accounts, and make sure no fraudulent charges are made. If you can put in place alerts on your credit cards/etc to ensure you get notified of out of the ordinary charges.

Have you placed a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit report? What was your reason for placing a freeze?

How To Freeze Your Credit After The Equifax Hack

128 Shares

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Boost Your Credit Score: 8 Helpful Credit Monitoring Apps

October 16, 2019 &• 4 min read by Farnoosh Torabi Comments 2 Comments

div#contentdisclaimer background: #fff;padding: 1.5em;line-height: 1.25em;max-width: 500px;
Advertiser Disclosure

Disclaimer

Maintaining a healthy credit score requires a good bit of focus, determination and hard work. There’s a lot to keep up with: We need to pay our bills on time, reduce debt and maintain a low debt-to-credit ratio, among other requirements—all to ensure a top-notch credit score. We can use all the help we can get! To that end, here are eight credit monitoring apps that can help keep your credit building on track.

1. Credit.com

One of the only truly free credit monitoring apps—most others require you to have a paid subscription to their digital service in order to use the “free” app—the Credit.com mobile app allows you to access your entire credit profile, including your credit score and insight into how it compares to your peers. You’ll see where you currently stand, see how your score has changed—and why—and get credit information and money-saving tips tailored to your score.

#animation-wrapper max-width: 450px; margin: 0 auto; width: auto; height: 600px; font-family: ProximaNova-Regular, Arial, sans-serif; #animation-wrapper .box background: linear-gradient(#0095D8, #1D4BB6); color: #fff; text-align: center; font-family: ProximaNova-Regular, Arial, sans-serif; height: 130px; padding-top: 10px; .content .box p margin: 0 0; .box .btn-primary color: #fff; background-color: #ff7f00; margin: 10px 0; .chat ul margin: 0; padding: 0; list-style: none; .message-left .message-time display: block; font-size: 12px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px; padding-top: 4px; color: #ccc; font-family: Courier; .message-right .message-time display: block; font-size: 12px; text-align: right; padding-right: 20px; padding-top: 4px; color: #ccc; font-family: Courier; .message-left text-align: left; margin-bottom: 6px; .message-left .message-text max-width: 80%; display: inline-block; background: #0095D8; padding: 8px 15px; font-size: 14px; color: #fff; border-radius: 30px; font-weight: 100; line-height: 1.5em; .message-right text-align: right; margin-bottom: 6px; .message-right .message-text line-height: 1.5em; display: inline-block; background: #1D4BB6; padding: 8px 15px; font-size: 14px; color: #fff; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.5em; font-weight: 100; text-align: left; .chat background: #fff; margin: 0; border-radius: 0; .chat-container height: 450px; padding: 5px 15px; overflow: hidden; .spinme-right display: inline-block; padding: 15px 20px; font-size: 14px; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.25em; font-weight: 100; opacity: .2; .spinme-left display: inline-block; padding: 15px 20px; font-size: 14px; color: #ccc; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.25em; font-weight: 100; opacity: .2; .spinner margin: 0; width: 30px; text-align: center; .spinner>div width: 10px; height: 10px; border-radius: 100%; display: inline-block; -webkit-animation: sk-bouncedelay 1.4s infinite ease-in-out both; animation: sk-bouncedelay 1.4s infinite ease-in-out both; background: #000; .spinner .bounce1 -webkit-animation-delay: -.32s; animation-delay: -.32s; .spinner .bounce2 -webkit-animation-delay: -.16s; animation-delay: -.16s; @-webkit-keyframes sk-bouncedelay 0%, 100%, 80% -webkit-transform: scale(0); 40% -webkit-transform: scale(1); @keyframes sk-bouncedelay 0%, 100%, 80% -webkit-transform: scale(0); transform: scale(0); 40% -webkit-transform: scale(1); transform: scale(1); .ad-container padding: 15px 30px; background-color: #fff; max-width: 690px; box-shadow: 1px 1px 4px #888; margin: 20px auto; .ad padding: 10px 6px; max-width: 630px; .ad-title font-size: 20px; color: #07b; line-height: 22px; margin-bottom: 6px; letter-spacing: -.32px; .ad-link line-height: 18px; padding-left: 26px; position: relative; .ad-link::before content: ‘Ad’; color: #006621; font-size: 10px; width: 21px; line-height: 12px; padding: 2px 0; text-align: center; border: 1px solid #006621; border-radius: 4px; box-sizing: border-box; display: inline-block; position: absolute; left: 0; .ad-link a color: #006621; text-decoration: none; font-size: 14px; line-height: 14px; .ad-copy color: #000; font-size: 14px; line-height: 18px; letter-spacing: -.34px; margin-top: 6px; display: inline-block; .ad .breaker font-size: 0; .box .box-desc font-family: ProximaNova-Bold, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 17px; font-weight: 600; width: 225px; margin: 0 auto; .btn display: inline-block; margin-bottom: 0; font-weight: 400; text-align: center; vertical-align: middle; touch-action: manipulation; cursor: pointer; background-image: none; border: 1px solid transparent; white-space: nowrap; padding: 6px 12px; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.428571429; border-radius: 4px; -webkit-user-select: none; -moz-user-select: none; -ms-user-select: none; user-select: none; font-family: ProximaNova-Semibold, Arial, sans-serif; text-decoration: none; .btn-group-lg>.btn, .btn-lg padding: 10px 16px; font-size: 18px; line-height: 1.3333333; border-radius: 6px; #ad-4 font-family: Arial, sans-serif; background-color: #fff; #ad-4 .ad-title color: #2130ab; #animation-wrapper .cta-ec background: #79af3e; color: #fff; width: 155px; height: 41px; font-family: ProximaNova-Semibold, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; margin: 10px auto 4px auto; #animation-wrapper .ec-logo display: block; margin: 0 auto; width: 140px; @media (max-width:500px) .ad padding: 20px 18px; max-width: 630px;

  • I just watched a documentary on the dark web, and I will never feel safe using my credit card again!
  • Luckily I don’t have to worry about that. I have ExtraCredit, so I get $1,000,000 ID protection and dark web scans.
  • I need that peace of mind in my life. What else do you get with ExtraCredit?
  • It’s basically everything my credit needs. I get 28 FICO® scores, rent and utility reporting, cash rewards and even a discount to one of the leaders in credit repair.
  • It’s settled; I’m getting ExtraCredit tonight. Totally unrelated, but any suggestions for my new fear of sharks? I watched that documentary too.
  • …we live in Oklahoma.

Get everything you need to master your credit today.

Get started

Availability: Apple and Android

Cost: Free

2. myFICO

The myFICO app is free, but it requires an active myFICO account, which means it effectively costs $20 per month or more, depending on which features you want. With this app, though, you can view and monitor your FICO scores—the most widely used credit score—and credit reports. They also provide a FICO Score Simulator, which shows you how your score may be affected if you take certain actions.

Availability: Apple and Android

Cost: Free, but requires an active myFICO account

3. Lock & Alert from Equifax

Lock & Alert from Equifax lets you lock and unlock your Equifax credit report to protect against identity theft and fraud. You’ll get an alert any time your account is locked or unlocked so you know you’re the one in control. A credit lock is not as secure as a credit freeze, but it does offer some level of protection and is generally easier to turn on and off. This app works only for your Equifax credit report, so if you want to lock all three reports, you’ll have to work with TransUnion and Experian separately.

Availability: Apple and Android

Cost: Free

4. Experian

The Experian mobile credit monitoring app lets you track your Experian credit report and FICO score, with an automatically updated credit report every 30 days. The app also comes with Experian Boost, which can help you boost your score. The app alerts you when changes to your report or score occur, and offers suggested credit cards based on your FICO score.

Availability: Apple and Android

Cost: Free, but some features require a paid Experian account

5. Lexington Law

If you’ve signed up for credit repair services with Lexington Law, you can use their free mobile app to keep track of your progress. In addition to providing access to your credit reports from all three credit bureaus and updates on ongoing disputes, the money manager feature, similar to Mint, helps you track your income, spending, budgets and debts.

Availability: Apple and Android

Cost: Free, but requires a paid Lexington Law account

6. TransUnion

The TransUnion mobile app allows you to refresh your credit score and credit report daily to see where you stand. It offers instant alerts if anything changes and offers Credit Lock Plus, which allows you to lock your TransUnion credit report to avoid identity theft and fraud. The Debt Analysis tool lets you calculate your debt-to-income ratio, and it allows you to view public records associated with your name.

Availability: Apple and Android

Cost: Free, but requires a paid TransUnion Credit Monitoring account

7. ScoreSense Scores To Go

ScoreSense offers credit scores and reports from all three credit bureaus and daily credit monitoring and alerts to changes on your reports. This app also provides creditor contact information so you can address errors on your report quickly and efficiently. Score tracking features let you review how your score changes over time and how it compares to your peers.

Availability: Apple and Android

Cost: Free, but requires a paid ScoreSense account

8. Self

Self helps you build—and track—your credit, making it great for people just establishing their credit profile or trying to rebuild damaged credit. Self offers one- and two-year loan terms, but instead of getting the money up front, the amount is deposited into a CD. You make regular payments for the term of the loan (at least $25 per month), and then get access to the money. There is no hard inquiry to open the account, but your payments are reported to all three credit bureaus, helping build your credit. Plus, while you are repaying your loan, you will have access to free credit monitoring and you VantageScore so you can track your progress.

Availability: Apple and Android

Cost: Free, but requires a Self loan repayment of at least $25 per month

Credit Monitoring Apps to Fit Your Needs

With so many different options, you’re sure to find a credit monitoring app that meets your needs. And don’t forget: you can always check your score for free using Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card.

#animation-wrapper max-width: 450px; margin: 0 auto; width: auto; height: 600px; font-family: ProximaNova-Regular, Arial, sans-serif; #animation-wrapper .box background: linear-gradient(#0095D8, #1D4BB6); color: #fff; text-align: center; font-family: ProximaNova-Regular, Arial, sans-serif; height: 130px; padding-top: 10px; .content .box p margin: 0 0; .box .btn-primary color: #fff; background-color: #ff7f00; margin: 10px 0; .chat ul margin: 0; padding: 0; list-style: none; .message-left .message-time display: block; font-size: 12px; text-align: left; padding-left: 30px; padding-top: 4px; color: #ccc; font-family: Courier; .message-right .message-time display: block; font-size: 12px; text-align: right; padding-right: 20px; padding-top: 4px; color: #ccc; font-family: Courier; .message-left text-align: left; margin-bottom: 7px; .message-left .message-text max-width: 80%; display: inline-block; background: #0095D8; padding: 13px; font-size: 14px; color: #fff; border-radius: 30px; font-weight: 100; line-height: 1.5em; .message-right text-align: right; margin-bottom: 7px; .message-right .message-text line-height: 1.5em; display: inline-block; background: #1D4BB6; padding: 13px; font-size: 14px; color: #fff; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.5em; font-weight: 100; text-align: left; .chat background: #fff; margin: 0; border-radius: 0; .chat-container height: 450px; padding: 5px 15px; overflow: hidden; .spinme-right display: inline-block; padding: 15px 20px; font-size: 14px; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.25em; font-weight: 100; opacity: .2; .spinme-left display: inline-block; padding: 15px 20px; font-size: 14px; color: #ccc; border-radius: 30px; line-height: 1.25em; font-weight: 100; opacity: .2; .spinner margin: 0; width: 30px; text-align: center; .spinner>div width: 10px; height: 10px; border-radius: 100%; display: inline-block; -webkit-animation: sk-bouncedelay 1.4s infinite ease-in-out both; animation: sk-bouncedelay 1.4s infinite ease-in-out both; background: #000; .spinner .bounce1 -webkit-animation-delay: -.32s; animation-delay: -.32s; .spinner .bounce2 -webkit-animation-delay: -.16s; animation-delay: -.16s; @-webkit-keyframes sk-bouncedelay 0%, 100%, 80% -webkit-transform: scale(0); 40% -webkit-transform: scale(1); @keyframes sk-bouncedelay 0%, 100%, 80% -webkit-transform: scale(0); transform: scale(0); 40% -webkit-transform: scale(1); transform: scale(1); .ad-container padding: 15px 30px; background-color: #fff; max-width: 690px; box-shadow: 1px 1px 4px #888; margin: 20px auto; .ad padding: 10px 6px; max-width: 630px; .ad-title font-size: 20px; color: #07b; line-height: 22px; margin-bottom: 6px; letter-spacing: -.32px; .ad-link line-height: 18px; padding-left: 26px; position: relative; .ad-link::before content: ‘Ad’; color: #006621; font-size: 10px; width: 21px; line-height: 12px; padding: 2px 0; text-align: center; border: 1px solid #006621; border-radius: 4px; box-sizing: border-box; display: inline-block; position: absolute; left: 0; .ad-link a color: #006621; text-decoration: none; font-size: 14px; line-height: 14px; .ad-copy color: #000; font-size: 14px; line-height: 18px; letter-spacing: -.34px; margin-top: 6px; display: inline-block; .ad .breaker font-size: 0; .box .box-desc font-family: ProximaNova-Bold, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 17px; font-weight: 600; width: 225px; margin: 0 auto; .btn display: inline-block; margin-bottom: 0; font-weight: 400; text-align: center; vertical-align: middle; touch-action: manipulation; cursor: pointer; background-image: none; border: 1px solid transparent; white-space: nowrap; padding: 6px 12px; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.428571429; border-radius: 4px; -webkit-user-select: none; -moz-user-select: none; -ms-user-select: none; user-select: none; font-family: ProximaNova-Semibold, Arial, sans-serif; text-decoration: none; .btn-group-lg>.btn, .btn-lg padding: 10px 16px; font-size: 18px; line-height: 1.3333333; border-radius: 6px; #ad-4 font-family: Arial, sans-serif; background-color: #fff; #ad-4 .ad-title color: #2130ab; #animation-wrapper .cta-ec background: #79af3e; color: #fff; width: 155px; height: 41px; font-family: ProximaNova-Semibold, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; margin: 10px auto 4px auto; #animation-wrapper .ec-logo display: block; margin: 0 auto; width: 140px; @media (max-width:500px) .ad padding: 20px 18px; max-width: 630px;

Get everything you need to master your credit today.

Get started

Sign up now.

Source: credit.com

Freezing Your Credit

  • Raise Credit Score

In the age of paperless transactions, identify theft is something that virtually all of us are susceptible to. If your identity is stolen, the consequences can be severe, and in some cases, can take years to recover from. One way to be proactive against fraud and defend yourself from identity theft, is to freeze your credit report with each of the three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. 

Placing a credit freeze on your credit report will stop identity thieves from being able to open new accounts, lines of credit, or make any large purchases in your name, regardless of whether or not they have your Social Security number or any other sensitive information. 

What a credit freeze means

A credit freeze is a process that shuts off access to your credit reports at your request. Without your verified consent, your delicate information cannot be acquired. This means that if someone were to attempt to apply for credit in your name, your report would come up as “frozen,” and therefore the creditor would not be able to see the information needed for the application to be approved.

You can unfreeze your credit at any time by using a PIN or a password. 

Reasons to freeze your credit

It might be a good idea to freeze your credit if you’re experiencing any of the following situations:

  • Your data has been compromised in a data breach: It happens. If you’ve been a victim of a data breach and personal information related to your identity has been leaked or made vulnerable to cyber criminals, a credit freeze can offer you some extra protection. 
  • You have reason to think you’ve been a victim of identity theft: Perhaps you’ve checked your credit recently and noticed open accounts that you don’t recognize. Maybe you’ve been getting phone calls from collections agencies requesting payments from accounts you know you didn’t open. While a credit freeze won’t be able to stop them from using accounts a thief has already opened, it can stop them from opening any more. 
  • You want to protect your child from identity theft: According to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, parents and legally guardians of children 16 years old and younger have the right to open a credit account for their child with the sole purpose of putting a freeze on it to protect them from identity theft. 

How to freeze your credit 

The process of freezing your credit is simple but does require a few steps. You will need to get in touch with each of the three major credit bureaus one by one and request a credit freeze:

  • Experian: Contact by phone at 800-349-9960 or go to their website.
  • Equifax: Contact by phone at 888-397-3742 or go to their website.
  • TransUnion: Contact by phone at 888-909-8872 or go to their website.  

The credit bureaus will ask you for your Social Security number, your date of birth and other information to verify your identity.

Once you freeze your credit, your file will be unattainable even if a thief has sensitive information such as your social security number or date of birth. If you need to use your credit file, you can unfreeze your credit report at any time. 

How to unfreeze your credit

Once you’ve frozen your credit file, it will be remain blocked until you decide that you would like to unfreeze it. You will need to unfreeze your credit report in order to open a new line of credit or make a major purchase. 

Unfreezing your credit file is simple. All you will need to do is go online to each credit bureau website and use the personal identification number (PIN) that you used to place the freeze on the account. If you don’t want to complete this task online, you can also unfreeze your credit file over the phone or through postal mail. 

When the unfreezing process is done online or by phone, it is completed within minutes of submitting the request. However, if you send your request via mail, it will take much longer. 

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to unfreeze your credit through all three of the major credit bureaus if you don’t want to. For instance, let’s say you plan to apply for credit somewhere. You can ask the creditor which credit bureau it will go through to pull up your report, and only unfreeze that one credit bureau. 

You may also have the option to unfreeze for a specific amount of time. Once the time is up, your credit file will automatically freeze again. 

Credit freeze pros and cons

There are a few reasons why you might want to freeze your credit in this day and age, but just like with anything else, there are pros and cons to credit freezing. Here is a general breakdown of the benefits and downfalls of putting a freeze on your credit report:

Pros:

  • It prevents thieves from opening new lines of credit: With a credit freeze placed on your account, no one will be able to open a new line of credit or any other type of account requiring a credit check using your personal data. Anyone trying to commit fraud will be stopped in their tracks as soon as lenders notice that the report is frozen. 
  • It won’t affect your credit score: Freezing your credit report will not damage your credit score. Additionally, if you’ve been a victim of identity theft, freezing your credit report could actually protect your credit score from being damaged due to fraud. 
  • It’s free: It used to be the case that some credit freezes would cost a fee, but that is no longer the way it works. 

Cons

  • It requires some effort: Putting a credit freeze on your credit report takes some effort. You will need to get in touch with all three credit bureaus. 
  • You will need to remember your PINs: A PIN is required to lift or freeze your credit report. If you lose it, you will need to jump through extra hoops to create a new one.

It can’t stop thieves from accessing your existing accounts: Credit freezes can only stop fraudsters from opening new accounts using your information. If you’ve already been a victim of identity theft, a credit freeze can’t block thieves from committing fraud with your current accounts. This means that thieves can still make a purchase using a credit card they stole from you.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com