Top Tactic to Avoid Identity Theft – Freeze Your Credit

xfmIt is not a new concept, but, not everyone has always been allowed to freeze your credit. In the past, only victims of ID theft have been allowed to freeze their credit to prevent identity theft. But recently all of the major credit bureaus adopted new rules allowing more non-victims to freeze their credit, and protect themselves from identity theft.

Here are the top 10 Facts You Need To Know About How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft by Freezing Your Credit:

1. How do I protect myself from identity theft by freezing my credit?
To freeze your credit, you have to send a letter to each of the three credit bureaus. You need to include identifying information If you are a victim of identity theft, include a copy of your police report, or DMV investigative report of identity theft.
Write to the addresses below:

TransUnion Security Freeze

P. O. Box 6790

Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

• To protect yourself from identity theft: Send by regular or certified mail.

• Include first name, middle initial, last name, Jr., etc.

• Current home address and addresses for past five years, SS number, and birth date.

Experian Security Freeze

P. O. Box 9554

Allen, TX 75013

• To protect yourself from identity theft: Send by certified mail.

• Include full name, with middle initial and Jr./Sr., etc.

• Include current address and home addresses for past five years, Social Security number, birth date, and two proofs of residence (copy of driver license, utility bill, insurance statement, bank statement).

Equifax Security Freeze

P.O. Box 105788

Atlanta, GA 30348

• To protect yourself from identity theft: Send by certified mail.

• Include name, current and former address, Social Security number, and date of birth.

2. Does it cost money to freeze my credit?

Yes, in most cases it does cost $10 per bureau to freeze your credit, the only exception is if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. In some states, in the case of identity theft, you can freeze your credit for free. In the case of all credit bureaus, you can pay by check, money order, or credit card to freeze your credit. When paying by credit card, be sure to include name of the card, account number, and expiration date.

3. Regarding identity theft, what is the difference between a fraud alert and putting a freeze on my credit?
A fraud alert is a statement that is added to your credit report that warns the credit issuer that there may have been identity theft or fraud involved with the account. A fraud alert will help protect you against identity theft, but can slow down the process of applying for new credit.

On the other hand, if you freeze your credit, your credit file cannot be seen by potential creditors, employers doing background checks or insurance companies, unless you give your consent. Although it does protect you from identity theft, most companies will not allow you to open accounts until they check your credit. This is the one downside if your freeze your credit.

4. Can I un- freeze my credit if I want to open a new line of credit, or if I am applying for a position that requires a background check?

Yes, you can un-freeze your credit, but it also costs $10 per bureau. They are required to lift the freeze within three business days after receiving your request to un- freeze your credit. On the same note, when you request the credit bureau to freeze your credit, they must freeze your credit within five business days of receiving your request to freeze your credit.

5. Can I order my own credit report after I freeze my credit?

Yes. This is a good idea to verify that there is no identity theft going on.

6. If I freeze my credit, will it lower my credit score?

No, and preventing identity theft will definitely help your score.

7. Does my spouse have to freeze their credit to prevent identity theft, too?

Yes, your spouse will have to freeze their credit to avoid identity theft via letters to all three credit bureaus requesting them to freeze their credit. They cost is $10 per bureau.

8. Can any creditor see my credit or credit score after I freeze my credit?

Yes and No. After you freeze your credit, any new requests to view your credit will get a message stating you have requested to freeze your credit. However, your credit will be released to any of your current creditors or to collection agents acting on their behalf.
After you freeze your credit, your current creditors will have access to review your account or for collection purposes. Other creditors can also view your credit, even after you freeze your credit, to make offers of credit-unless you have opted-out of receiving such offers.
You can stop the pre-approved credit offers by calling 888-5OPTOUT. Or you can visit http://www.optoutprescreen.com. Your request will be good for five years, OR you can make it permanent. This is another excellent way to prevent identity theft.

9. Can anyone other than my current creditors view my credit after I have frozen my credit?

Yes, even after you have decided to freeze your credit, there is one entity that can access your credit, the Government. They may have access for collecting child support payments or taxes or for investigating Medicare fraud. They may also have access in response to a court or administrative order, a subpoena, or a search warrant.

10. To protect myself from identity theft do I have to freeze my credit with all three credit bureaus?

Yes. Each creditor uses different credit bureaus. If you want to freeze your credit so that you can deter identity theft, and keep it from being viewed, you must freeze it with TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

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My name is Kim Patrick, and I have worked as a Loan Officer in the mortgage industry since 1994. I have helped countless people, over the years, achieve their goal of homeownership.

I am a Financial Advisor, and regardless of whether or not my customers are first time homebuyers, or experienced homeowners, I look at their whole financial picture and make recommendations on how they can best achieve their financial goals.

My goal is to help folks who have credit “issues”, as they call them in my business, find their way out of the proverbial “paper bag” and achieve the American dream of owning their own home.

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