In the wake of the Equifax data breach that has exposed an estimated 143 million customer records to hackers, consumer credit experts have been recommending freezing one’s credit as a protection against identity theft.
But most people will probably not heed the call, feeling it is simply too hard.
The process is cumbersome and can cost money, and you would need to approach it as a life-long commitment, since your risk for identity theft is not going away anytime soon.
Credit freezes protect you from pure identity theft when somebody sets up new accounts in your name, potentially ruining your credit score.
They do not, however, protect you from other forms of fraud, like a thief running up charges on your credit cards, stealing from your bank account or hijacking your tax refund. So you still need to be vigilant about keeping track of your accounts, which most people fail to do even though it requires minimal effort.
Paying a monthly fee for a credit-monitoring service is the next step up, but that only alerts you to new accounts and does nothing about them. Identity theft resolution services can walk you through the steps to clean up your accounts if you are attacked; however, that itself will not block access to thieves.
Freezing your credit goes the final mile. Credit card expert Matt Schulz, a senior analyst for creditcards.com, calls freezes the “nuclear option” for good reason.
A credit freeze requires individuals to contact each of the three consumer credit bureaus…Read More