Everyone has surely experience the panic of feeling like their financial identity has been compromised. Whether it’s an actual account of theft or just a temporary oversight on your behalf, the feeling of dread and frustration remains the same if even for just a moment. Luckily there are different options like Fraud Alert and Credit Freezes that work to protect your accounts from fraud, theft, and more. But what exactly is the right option for you?
A Fraud Alert is a process that forces business to verify your identity before they can offer you any new credit. It can be especially helpful for those who think they are victims of identity theft, anyone who has misplaced their wallet or other PII, anyone who is a victim of a recent security breach, or for any other reason they may feel as though their accounts or information are no longer “safe.” A credit Fraud Alert will not prevent you from being able to do the things you would normally, but instead add a 90 day period of time in which security measures are tightened to ensure your credit integrity, and may include calling you to confirm your identity before you can take out any new credit. A police report can extend the Fraud Alert time to seven years. This is called an extended Fraud Alert. Fraud Alerts are free and as easy to get as calling up one of the three major credit-reporting agencies. For extended Fraud Alerts, you must also submit the police report of your identity theft to the respective agency.
A Credit Freeze is a much more intricate process in which no-one, including you, will be able to access or create new accounts in your name. You are given a unique pin or code that can be used to open new credit or access your credit reports should you ever need to. This option is for those who want the most secure solution to prevent against identity theft, security breaches, and more. A Credit Freeze will last as long as you need it to, is able to be temporarily lifted or removed at your discretion, though in some states a Credit Freeze will automatically expire after seven years. The cost to freeze your credit may vary from state to state, but in most cases a victim of identity theft will be able to do it for free, whereas non-victims may be required to pay up to $10 for every time you freeze or unfreeze your credit. For a Credit Freeze you will have to contact all three of the three major credit-reporting agencies through their respective “credit freeze portals.”