Freezing your Credit to Minimize Potential Identity Theft

We all know that identity theft is a growing problem, and it is especially prevalent with our senior population. For those of you with elderly parents who fear they may be vulnerable to identity theft, consider placing a credit freeze on his or her credit file. Doing so will make your loved ones credit report unattainable to most people, with a few minor exceptions (like existing creditors). That means, your loved one would not have to worry about someone opening an account in his or her name, or applying for a loan, without consent.   If you are acting as a fiduciary, you would have control over who can access the credit report and when. Placing a freeze will not impact your current credit score, nor will it have any affect on your ability to use existing credit cards. There are 3 main credit bureaus that allow you to place a freeze – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. To be effective, you would need to contact all 3 credit agencies separately by phone or visiting their website noted below. If you are serving as a fiduciary, (power of attorney or guardian), you can place a freeze on his or her behalf. It’s important to note that if you do need to apply for credit, you have to remove the security freeze.  Placing the credit freeze is free, and is currently the most effective tool in minimizing the potential risk of identity theft.

Equifax

Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services

800-685-1111

Experian

Experian.com/help

888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

Transunion

TransUnion.com/credit-help

888-909-8872

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