Identity Theft: The Importance of Freezing Your Credit

With news of data breaches in the headlines, it is important to understand how freezing your credit at each of the three major credit reporting companies could protect you in the event of identity theft.

If you have been the victim of a stolen identity, you know that the onus is on you to proactively prove that you are not responsible for the things that someone else did in your name. Taking the step to freeze your credit may make it much more difficult for identity thieves to obtain new credit in your name.

A credit freeze does not:

  • Affect your credit score.
  • Prevent you from getting a free annual credit report.
  • Prevent you from opening a new credit account, applying for a job, renting an apartment,  applying for a mortgage or buying insurance. However, if you do any of these things, you  will need to lift the freeze temporarily, for either a specific time or a specific party (such as a lender or employer).
  • Prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.

How do I place a freeze on my credit?

Contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies:

You will need to provide your name, Social Security number, and other personal information. Fees vary based on where you live. After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. When and if you eventually chose to lift the freeze, you will definitely need this information.

How do I lift a credit freeze?

To lift your freeze, contact the bureau used by the institution requiring your credit information and provide your PIN to lift the freeze—either temporarily or permanently. You can do this over the phone or online. A credit reporting company must lift a freeze no later than three business days after  receiving your request. Again, fees will vary based on where you live.

For more information on California’s process and associated costs, see the Office of the Attorney General’s website at: https://www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/facts/freeze-your-credit

Download our Guide to Credit Freezes here. 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future  performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including  the  investments  and/or  investment  strategies  recommended  or  undertaken by Private Ocean,  LLC [“Private  Ocean”]),  or any  non-investment  related  content,  made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated  historical  performance  level(s),  be  suitable  for  your  portfolio  or  individual situation,  or  prove  successful.  Due  to various  factors,  including  changing  market conditions  and/or  applicable  laws,  the  content  may  no  longer  be  reflective  of  current opinions  or  positions.   Moreover,  you  should  not  assume  that  any  discussion  or information  contained  in  this  blog  serves  as  the  receipt  of,  or  as  a  substitute  for, personalized investment advice from Private Ocean.  Please remember that if you are a Private Ocean client, it remains your responsibility to advise Private Ocean, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/ evaluating/ revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or  if  you  would  like  to  impose,  add,  or  to  modify  any  reasonable  restrictions  to  our investment advisory services. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any  specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Private Ocean is  neither  a  law  firm  nor  a  certified  public  accounting  firm  and  no  portion  of  the  blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Private Ocean’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for  review  upon  requestor  at www.privateocean.com. Please note: Private  Ocean does not  make  any representations  or  warranties  as  to  the  accuracy,  timeliness,  suitability, completeness,  or  relevance  of  any  information  prepared  by  any  unaffiliated  third  party, whether  linked  to Private  Ocean’s web  site  or blog  or  incorporated  herein,  and  takes  no responsibility  for any  such  content. All  such  information  is provided  solely  for convenience  purposes  only  and  all  users  thereof  should  be  guided  accordingly. Please also note: If  you  are  a Private  Ocean client, please  advise  us if  you  have  not  been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.