A correspondent asked:
I heard there is a way for you to protect your credit information from being stolen. Is that true? Should I do it?
Frozen in Frisco
Yes, It just became easier to protect yourself from identity theft. Congress passed a law last spring that, among many other provisions, requires the three consumer credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — to allow you to freeze and unfreeze your credit report at no charge. It takes effect now.
The NY Times wrote a good summary. I won’t repeat their comments but I do encourage you to freeze your credit report at all three. This is especially true if have no plans to apply for a loan or other credit with any frequency.
The reason to freeze is simple — you’ll reduce the risk of someone stealing your identity and successfully borrowing money in your name. That’s unlikely to happen but if you make the process harder for the bad guys they’ll surely find an easier target to exploit.
The links to their websites are:
I’ve tried all three and can report back that it is a relatively straightforward process. But, remember your PIN and login credentials to make future changes.
Each time you apply for credit, you’ll need to unfreeze access to the appropriate bureau. If you don’t know which your lender uses, you may need to temporarily unfreeze all three.
PS: If you want to know more about what credit reports and scores are, I previously wrote about them and how they can affect your financial life.