Credit Freezes Can Help Protect You from ID Theft

Congress recently made several changes to credit rules that benefit consumers.

You are now allowed to “freeze” and “unfreeze” your credit report free of charge at all three of the major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The law also extends free credit freeze protection to children under age 16 and increases initial fraud alert protection to one full year (previously, fraud alerts expired after 90 days unless they were renewed).

What exactly is a credit freeze?
A credit freeze prevents new credit and accounts from being opened in your name. Once you obtain a credit freeze, creditors won’t be allowed to access your credit report and therefore cannot offer new credit. This helps prevent identity thieves from applying for credit or opening fraudulent accounts in your name.

To place a credit freeze on your credit report, you must contact each credit reporting bureau separately.

Keep in mind that a credit freeze is permanent and stays on your credit report until you unfreeze it. This is important, because if you want to apply for credit with a new financial institution in the future, open a new bank account, or even apply for a job or rent an apartment, you will need to “unlock” or “thaw” the credit freeze with all three credit reporting bureaus.

Each credit bureau has its own authentication process for unlocking the freeze (e.g., using a password and/or a PIN). Be sure to keep track of this information if you freeze your credit.

What about fraud alerts?
A less drastic option is to place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert requires creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before extending any existing credit or issuing new credit in your name.

To request a fraud alert, you only have to contact one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Once you have placed a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the bureaus your request for a fraud alert will be passed along to the other two bureaus.

Where can I find out more information?
The new law requires that each credit reporting bureau set up a webpage devoted exclusively to requesting credit freezes and fraud alerts. You can also find more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s website, IdentityTheft.gov.

 


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*Past performance is not an indicator of future results. This material is not financial advice or an offer to sell any product. The statements contained herein are solely based upon the opinions of Elevage Partners, LLC (“Elevage”). Elevage is a registered investment adviser. More information about the firm can be found in its Form ADV Part 2, which may be requested by calling (877) 922-8243 or visiting http://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. The information contained herein is derived from sources we believe to be reliable, but which we have not independently verified. Elevage assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions in this information. Elevage reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs. The information provided in this report should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security. There is no assurance that any securities discussed herein will remain in an account’s portfolio at the time you receive. It should not be assumed that any of the securities transactions, holdings or sectors discussed were, or will prove to be profitable, or that the investment recommendations or decisions Elevage makes in the future will be profitable or will equal the investment performance of the securities discussed herein.
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