Money

Stop identity theft – Freeze your credit report

This is not a sales pitch for some credit monitoring service.  Credit monitoring & identity theft insurance are reactive measures.  They are not only reactive, they are fairly expensive, with recurring monthly charges anywhere from $10 and up per month!

I am going to describe to you  how to freeze your credit records.  Locking your credit reports is a step that you should take if you are serious about not having your identity stolen.  It will take a little work, and a small amount of money, but it will absolutely prevent anyone from taking out credit in your name. When your credit is locked, no one, not even you, can access your credit without first contacting at least one of the major credit reporting bureaus with your secret password.

First, you should review the laws in your state to see how much you should expect to pay.  Secondly, you should contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus (TransUnion.com, Experian.com and Equifax.com) and request that they lock your credit.  Each of the bureaus will have instructions on their website on what you need to do to lock your credit.  Clark Howard (see links below) has some nice form letters on his website for those agencies that force you to snail-mail in your request for a credit freeze.

My experience was this: For $41 I was able to freeze my credit & my wife’s credit.  I think this is money well spent, if for nothing else than the peace of mind that my credit is in a deep freeze, locked away from criminals.
Transunion – I was able to freeze both of our credit reports online, for free!
Experian – I was able to freeze both of our credit reports online for $10 each.
Equifax – Even though they have a security freeze website, I was forced to mail in 2 letters requesting my credit be frozen, and include $10 for each report I wanted frozen.

Other resources:
Clark Howard’s guide to freezing your credit
Consumer’s Union: State Security Freeze Laws

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