Worried about identity theft or already experienced several breaches? You might want to freeze your credit or use a fraud alert.
A fraud alert allows someone to get a copy of your credit report if they can verify your identity, and it’s free. A freeze restricts access to your credit report entirely, and you typically pay a $5-10 fee per agency.
A freeze or fraud alert does not affect your credit score, stop pre-screened offers for credit, or prevent you from getting your free annual credit report from annualcreditreport.com.
To order a credit freeze, you must contact each credit reporting agency:
o Equifax – 800.525.6285
o Experian – 888.397.3742
o TransUnion – 800.680.7289
You will supply your full name, address, birth date, Social Security number and other personal information. Each agency sends a confirmation letter and a PIN (Personal Identification Number) that you use to lift the freeze. The freeze remains in place until you request it be lifted, and there may also be a fee to do so.
You can place a fraud alert to protect your credit from unverified access for 90 days to 7 years. To do this, contact one of the credit reporting agencies listed here and give proof of your identity. This agency must tell the other two agencies.