Breach, breach, breach. It's constant. And this latest breach from Equifax, the company that is supposed to be monitoring your credit, may be even scarier than the others.
- How to Tell If the Equifax Data Breach Affects You
- Verify: How to protect yourself after Equifax data breach
So, here's what you need to do right now:
CREDIT FREEZE. Placing a security freeze on your credit reports can block an identity thief from opening a new account or getting credit in your name. In Texas, there is a $10 fee associated with a credit freeze. Equifax, though, is waiving the fee in the wake of the breach. A security freeze can be done online or by phone or mail. Higher-than-usual traffic to the bureaus' websites may cause issues doing so online.
Credit bureaus can usually comply with your online request for a security freeze within 24 hours of receiving it.
You need to contact each of the bureaus individually, doing just one isn’t enough protection. Click on each of the bureaus for the online form.
NOTE: You can temporarily “thaw” your freeze so you can get a car loan or a credit card. To do that you’ll need to get a PIN from each of the bureaus. Often, they do this by mail. And if you lose your PIN they can charge you to get it back. A small fee may also be associated with a temporary "unfreeze."
CHILD CREDIT FREEZE
Texas law allows parents to protect their children from identity theft by freezing their child’s credit. This keeps others from taking credit out in your child’s name. You need to do this my mail or phone.
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348//1-800-685-1111
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013//1-888-397-3742
TU Protected Consumer Freeze
P.O. Box 380 Woodlyn, PA 19094//1-800-916-8800
You'll need to provide
• Who you are (a copy of your driver license, a utility bill showing your name and address, your SS card, or your SSN)
• Who the child is (a copy of the child’s SS card, or their SSN)
• That you are their parent (an official/certified copy of the child’s birth certificate)
Select "Add a Security Freeze", and then select "Place a Security Freeze on Minor's Credit File"
Each credit bureau can charge a fee of $5.00 to establish a credit report in your child’s name and then place a Protected Consumer security freeze on it. The fee will be waived if:
• You can prove that your child has already been a victim of identity theft (police report, etc.)
• A credit report in your child’s name already exists (credit bureau will research this)
MONITOR YOUR CREDIT FOR FREE. The easiest way to catch a problem, is to know what is on your credit report and make sure there isn’t anything on there you didn’t authorize. You get a FREE credit report from each of the bureaus each year. The only truly FREE credit reports are through the government site, Annual Credit Report.
SPACE THEM OUT! The best way to protect yourself all year long is to get your freebie from TransUnion this month, the freebie from Equifax in January and the freebie from Experian in May. Then you start the process all over again.
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