The recent data breach at Equifax has a lot of people talking about their credit reports. Thieves who get hold of this personal information stolen from Equifax could use it to open new lines of credit in your name like loans, mortgages, and credit cards. A credit freeze can stop that from happening. It does not affect your credit negatively, but when you want to open a new account yourself, you’ll need to UNfreeze the accounts first. The cost to put a freeze in place or UNfreeze an account is nominal and commonly costs about $5 to $10 per credit rating agency. Freezing your credit report can be done easily because it is a fairly simple process. Each company has an automated system by phone. It only took about 15 minutes!

Visit each credit bureau’s site to get more information about placing a security freeze on your credit report.

Equifax: Freeze Your Equifax Credit Report, 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents 1-800-349-9960)
Experian: Freeze Your Experian Credit Report, 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: Freeze Your TransUnion Credit Report, 1-888-909-8872

It’s very important to keep the resulting correspondence, which will include numbers needed to lift the freeze with each credit bureau. When the bad guys can’t get the credit report needed for most new accounts, loans, etc., their efforts will become burdensome and they’ll move on to someone else.

Freezing credit is especially wise for the elderly, since they are not as likely to need new accounts, loans, etc., and they are more likely to be victims of identity theft.