More and more we are reading about financial institutions and retailers being victims of security breaches. Understand nothing is 100% effective but I would like to share….
My Simple Strategy to Protect Credit Information From Unauthorized Access
Freeze your credit reports
It’s easy and free in most states. Here in California, it’s free to place the freeze but cost $10 for a temporary lift. Placing a freeze on your credit report is one of the most effective ways to keep identity thieves from getting your information. Each of the major credit bureaus has instructions on how to place and lift a credit report freeze.
Equifax – www.freeze.equifax.com
Experian – www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
Trans Union – www.transunion.com/securityfreeze
If anyone tries to open an account using your identity, the thief won’t be able to access the report, and this should result in an automatic denial of new credit.
A credit freeze may protect credit information on the front end for free, no need to sign up with a credit protection company.
Freeze individual credit cards
Most credit cards now give you an option to freeze the account. If anyone does get your credit card number, they won’t be able to use the account. If the credit bureau suffers a security breach, you’ve got an extra layer of protection.
Place fraud alerts on your credit cards
Set up fraud alerts to text and email me for any charge of $1.00 or more.
Inform Credit Cards When Traveling
When traveling, I carry two credit cards, one American Express and one Visa. I always inform the credit card company of my travel dates and location. Setting a travel alert is quickly done online.
Consolidate and Close Accounts
To be honest, I don’t care if my FICO gets a temporary ding when I close an unused account. Before you close an account consider requesting an increase to your line of credit on the ones you’re keeping open. Higher credit lines will help to minimize the impact on your debt utilization. Never close your oldest account.
Monitor Credit Reports
No need to pay for credit monitoring, you are legally entitled to get a free report from each bureau annually at www.annualcreditreport.com. Most credit cards now offer some free credit monitoring; my favorite is the CreditWise service from Capital One.
It’s important to remember that if someone does get away with stealing your credit card number and uses it, you generally have limited financial liability as long as you report the fraud immediately.
Protecting your information is vital.