Updated November 2, 2019 . AmFam Team
If you find yourself the victim of identity theft, you may not know where to turn or what to do. Sometimes, you’ll get a call from your bank letting you know that your identity, or personally identifiable information like your name, address — even your social security number — has been compromised. They may offer up a few suggestions on what to do next with initial fraud alerts like these. What if you get the wrong advice? Is “watching and waiting” really a good strategy?
Fraud alerts and credit freezes are two primary ways that can help to halt new credit applications from proceeding, but which one’s right for you? And what are the risks? Take a look at our tips on how to lock down credit history inquiries and limit access to your data so you’ll have a better idea of what to do if the unexpected should happen to you.
Credit freezes are designed to lock down access to your credit report — and thereby shut down any new credit applications. Because lenders won’t be able to assess your financial data or see your payment history unless you allow them access with your PIN, any and all new attempts to ping your credit report will fail when you freeze your credit. If you’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of an ID theft, a credit freeze may be a step in the right direction.
Building up a positive credit profile is key if you’re in the process of saving for a home. If your personal information has been compromised in the past, it may be wise to contact the bureaus and place a freeze in order to help ensure stability of your credit profile.
One real benefit to executing a credit freeze is the ability to selectively turn it on and off with your PIN. After you launch a freeze, you’ll be issued a PIN by the individual bureau. So, you’ll need to keep track of three different PINs when a freeze is active. If you want to grant a qualified lender or other group access to your credit history, they can get the data they need to make an informed decision about your credit-worthiness after you provide that PIN.
When you’ve got a credit freeze in place, you’re dependent on that PIN to grant access or even lift the freeze altogether. If you lose that PIN, you’ll need to go through heightened measures — which can vary by credit bureau — to prove your identity, and that can be a difficult process to navigate.
So, there you have it — two different ways to keep tabs on your credit profile to better manage your online financial data. Tools like these help you to take control of your financial history and realize your dreams. Another key way to build out protection for everything that means so much is with a well-tuned homeowners insurance policy. Get in touch with your American Family Insurance agent today and check out your coverage options. You’ll find real peace of mind with our easy to understand policies and protection.
This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. You should contact a professional for advice specific to your situation.