PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Freezes are not something we give much thought to in our tropical weather. However, a different kind of freeze should be uppermost in your mind. Let me explain.
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the big three credit reporting agencies. All three offer fraud alerts and security freezes. Establish a fraud alert at one credit bureau and it should alert the other two bureaus to do the same.
WPTV tech expert Alan Crowetz cautions that a fraud alert—while helpful—might alert you only after someone has tried to steal your credit or identity. That is why he prefers a security freeze.
Crowetz says, “A freeze locks your credit so no one can access it.”
Remember, you must go to each credit bureau’s website or phone hotline to set up a freeze. Crowetz says your best bet for information on how to get started is to go to the Federal Trade Commission homepage at: consumer.FTC.gov .
That website will walk you through privacy, identity and online security steps that include information on how to add a security freeze. There is also information on how to temporarily lift that freeze when you are applying for new credit.
Crowetz says, “It can protect (you from) a lot of the identity theft we hear about, people opening accounts and ruining your credit, and it is pretty easy to do, and free.”
One final important note.
Setting up a security freeze will generate a special code for you to access and unlock your report. Print it, file it in your safety box for the times you might need it. Do not lose that number because it can be a real pain if you do.
Having said that, the extra care is worth it as you add one more step to your security in our internet connected world.