Digital threat is real; there is no doubt about it. You can always try to prevent it, but somehow – when your luck runs out – there is no way of escaping it
Even the biggest and well-known companies with solid protection system can’t escape from digital attacks. Remember the cases with Target, Sony, anthem, and Home Depot? They are big, international-scale companies with undoubtedly secured systems and rock solid protections
, and yet the hackers still managed to break through, steal important data, and create chaos and damages.
Right now, the problem isn’t about whether you will be the target or not, but more to when you are going to be the next target. The best preventive way is to assume that you are vulnerable to digital threats and attacks; the best way for you to do is to prevent identity theft or bad people use your social security number or credit cards to open up accounts – which can cost you a lot. When you know that you are vulnerable, you know the best ways and solutions to prevent such thing from happening.
Dealing with Stolen Personal Information
If you don’t want others to use your personal information, you can always freeze the credit report. Is it even possible? Yes, of course, it is. When you freeze it, nobody – I mean, nobody – will be able to have access to it. Your banks, credit card companies, apartments, stores, and other parties won’t be able to view or pull your credits. When no one can access your credit, they can’t open any account with your name.
Wait, does it mean that you can’t open any account either? Yup, you can’t do it unless you unfreeze it (permanently or temporarily). There are three credit companies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax that can help you unfreeze your report. In case you want to freeze it again after applying for something, feel free to do so. The only downside is that it may cost you when you freeze your report – the cost also depends on the state where you live. However, if you want to freeze your report because of a case report or because your identity is stolen, then you won’t have to spend a dime. It doesn’t cost much, actually, to freeze a report – the highest one is $10 for each of the three companies – but you need to deal with the separate process for each one of them.
Freezing your report may seem like a good idea because new accounts opening will require your credit report. Opening an account for the apartment, car insurance, cell phone, store card, etc will make your credit card open and vulnerable to attacks. It is a good thing that unfreezing the report only takes a short time – a simple online form or five minutes calls – and you can also determine when you want to freeze it back again. Most creditors use one credit company only, so ask them which one they are using, and unfreeze your report with that specific service. It is that easy!
Freezing or Not?
If you are wondering whether you should freeze your credit report or not, you need to ask yourself about your current situation. If your credit report is often accessed or you are required to open new accounts most of the time, freezing it won’t work. Although it is rather difficult to imagine that you need new credit quite often, there are some possibilities that make freezing won’t work efficiently. It is you who can decide whether you want to do it or not, as it is you who will have to deal with the impact in case something is wrong.
Credit Monitoring vs Security Freeze
You probably think, why not using the credit monitoring service, instead of going through the hassle with the freeze and unfreeze method? Well, first of all, you need to understand that all credit agencies DO want you to use their credit monitoring service. After all, why not? They can get at least $10 on monthly basis for the rest of your lives. But the credit monitoring service only warns you after somebody else use your name to open up new accounts; the service doesn’t provide any preventive way to stop it from happening. Sure you get the warning, but somebody has stolen your data and damages have been created, although you can try to fix it. Not only you don’t get the solution you want, you will end up spending more money than you should have for such (I think) useless service.
On the other hand, security freeze DOES prevent anyone else accessing your data and information so they can’t open new accounts with your data. And yes, you do have to pay for freezing your credit report, but it is only a one-time payment – compare it to the monthly fee you have to spend for the monitoring service. For me personally, it is better to use the one time payment option that spending money on monthly basis for the service that can’t even guarantee your safety and protection.
Don’t be easily fooled by the claims that freezing and unfreezing your report will be complicated or difficult; that is just a claim made by the credit agencies so you will turn to their monitoring service. They are exaggerating the extent of the matter because freezing and unfreezing the report can be done very easily, as long as you provide the time to do so. If you don’t believe me, try it on yourself.
What’s important is the right steps to do the process correctly. As long as you understand it correctly, you are good to go:
1. First of all, you need to visit each company’s official website separately. Make sure that you fill in your personal information on the three of them. If you are required to pay, enter the credit card number, and verify your identity. It would be wise if you always keep your credit report copy, just in case if you have to deal with tricky questions.
2. If you have more time, you can call them (separately make a call on each of the companies) so you can handle matters directly and fast. If they need forms or other information, simply email the required matters to them.
3. Be prepared to keep a copy of your important documents (identity card, credit card, and such thing alike) and also monthly utility bills with your name. When they give you pin number (if in case you want to freeze and unfreeze your report again), don’t forget to write it down because you will always need it. Sure, you can forget it, but you will have to go through the tedious process again and again – I myself don’t want to go through it again.
4. Also note that identity thieves often file for tax return with your name, resulting in your tax money being deposited within their account; not yours. If you want to file the tax return, do it right away so such thing won’t happen to you.