Should I freeze my credit to protect myself against identity theft?

0

This is an excerpt from Dollar Scholar, the Money newsletter where editor Julia Glum teaches you the modern money lessons you MUST know. Don’t miss the next issue! Register on money.com/subscribe and join our community of over 160,000 scholars.


Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click on this ad.A d

byte Invisible Braces – over 200,000 confident smiles can’t be wrong!

With byte’s doctor-led treatment, you can achieve straight teeth with convenience and discretion. Get started today for $70 or less per month.

Get your kit today

It’s incredibly hot and my window air conditioner is doing absolutely nothing to help you, so I’m going to give you a present: my favorite frozen margarita recipe.

He comes from the Vitamix Recipe Book, but I can confirm that it works just as well in a regular blender or even a Magic Bullet, if that’s all you have. I tweaked it to perfection. That’s four servings – or, like, two, if you’re as sweaty as I am right now.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of tequila (at least)
  • ½ cup triple sec
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bag of frozen strawberries (16 oz.)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 6 cups of ice cubes
  • sugar or salt for the rims

The instructions:

  1. Peel your orange, lime and lemon. Try to remove most of the white stuff, but if you leave a little because you’re tired, that’s fine. Cut them into small pieces (wedges, wedges, whatever).
  2. Throw all the ingredients into your blender. Mix, gradually increasing the speed, until everything is well blended and slippery. This will probably take about a minute.
  3. Open the lid and taste it with a spoon. Ask yourself if you should add a little more tequila. (You should.)
  4. Add a little more tequila. Mix again. Worry your neighbors will be annoyed by all your loud mixes. Prepare your cups with sugar or salt rims.
  5. Pour into mugs. Kick back, relax, and sip your perfectly fruity frozen margarita. If you still need to cool off, consider some other icy stuff: Olaf, Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Backcredit…

…actually, let’s dive into the latter.

Should I freeze my credit?

Brittney Castro, a certified financial planner who works with Mint, told me freezing my credit is a security measure — “no random creditor can look up and access your credit report,” she says. “They should be given access.”

As long-time researchers know, credit is a big deal. Lenders check my credit history and scores every time I apply for a new line of credit, a broad category that can include anything from a new credit card to a car loan to a mortgage. If my credit is frozen, lenders can’t see it…and therefore won’t move forward.

This is useful when I am not applying, i.e. in case of identity theft. And it’s surprisingly common: The Federal Trade Commission received more than 363,000 reports of credit card fraud on a new account in 2021.

“There are so many scams these days where people have access to your personal information and try to take credit on your behalf,” says Claire Mork, director of financial planning at Edelman Financial Engines. But if my credit was frozen, she adds, they couldn’t fraudulently get a loan using my data.

Colleen McCreary, consumer finance advocate and director of human resources at Credit Karma, writes in an email that a credit freeze will not protect me in situations where criminals have already gained access to my accounts (such as if a hacker was stealing my bank login credentials).

However, freezing my credit is a smart move whenever I fear my identity will be exposed. It can be as small as my stolen wallet or as big as my leaked data in a major breach.

“We absolutely recommend clients do this if they’re not planning on taking out a loan anytime soon,” McCreary says. “The same goes for other members of your family, especially those who are more vulnerable to identity theft, such as elderly parents, grandparents or children.”

Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

The credit freeze cost money. US PIRG, a federation of consumer interest groups, reported in 2017, only eight states gave residents the option to freeze their credit without paying.

But after the colossal Equifax breach that exposed the private data of 147 million people, Congress required Americans to freeze (and unfreeze) their credit for free. All I have to do is contact the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – and ask.

This brings me to the biggest downside of freezing my credit: it’s inconvenient.

Castro tells me that I may have to individually request a freeze from each of the offices. Each will probably ask me to create an account, as well as give me a PIN that I need to keep track of. Above all, I will also have to plan in advance for my credit to thaw.

“The credit freeze can delay your job applications, your cell phone service, or any other situation that requires a credit check, because you have to lift the freeze every time, and it can take a few days for your credit to be unfrozen. “McCreary. said.

One final note: It’s important to note that my credit ratings can, and do, change while I’m on the ice. The freeze itself doesn’t hurt my scores, but if I start missing payments, the numbers will drop anyway.

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click on this ad.A dAds by Money Disclaimer

Secure your credit, identity and personal information with identity theft protection software.

Start protecting all your personal information, including passwords, credit cards, and social security number. Click below and protect your data today.

Begin

The bottom line

Freezing my credit is a way to protect myself. While this can be a hassle, it’s probably worth it in SOS situations to prevent identity theft.

“It’s so painful to fix these issues,” Mork says. “The amount of work you need to do to fix this problem. . . why potentially put you through this?”

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click on this ad.A dAds by Money Disclaimer

byte Invisible Braces – over 200,000 confident smiles can’t be wrong!

With byte’s doctor-led treatment, you can achieve straight teeth with convenience and discretion. Get started today for $70 or less per month.

Get your kit today

More money :

How many credit cards is too many credit cards?

Should I keep my first credit card open forever?

Is it a good idea to put my bills on automatic payment?

Share.

Comments are closed.