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We've seen several data breaches in recent years, which resulted in data leak impacting millions of Americans as well as banks and retailers. That means people are vulnerable to identity theft.
Data security experts are recommending that consumers take steps to protect themselves from identity fraud. And one of most effective ways to do so, according to experts, is to put a freeze on credit reports.
A credit freeze, which is also known as a security freeze, can help protect you from identity theft and fraud. The freeze prevents banks and other companies from accessing your credit report and therefore identity thieves won't be able to open new accounts in your name.
In order to freeze your credit, you need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus. Here's contact information for each credit bureau:
You will need to provide your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and some other personal information to put a freeze on your credit report. Once the freeze is placed, you will be provided with a PIN code or password, which is needed to lift the freeze when necessary (for example when applying for a new line of credit).
The credit freeze is absolutely free in all states. It won't cost you anything to freeze or unfreeze your credit report.
It is especially important to consider freezing your credit reports before you start shopping for gifts on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other sales events. Especially if you were a victim of or suspect you are a victim of identity theft. The freeze is an added protection designed to stop fraudsters from opening new accounts in your name.
However, the freeze is not a panacea. You will still want to check your statements regularly. The credit freeze does not prevent financial loss if fraudsters get your card number after a data breach.