Protect your credit and minimize the risk of ID theft
All three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) have sensitive information on us. Their customers are the banks, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, auto lenders, cell phone companies, insurance companies, etc who inquire about our credit-worthiness. So, even though we don’t have any interaction with them, they still have sensitive information about our financial picture (social security number, credit card and mortgage details, name, date of birth). This information, when stolen, can be used by identity thieves to make fraudulent charges in your name. Because Equifax did not adequately protect consumer information, 143 million people have had their sensitive information stolen.
I strongly recommend you check your free annual credit report with all three credit bureaus by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. You will be able to see just what information all three companies have regarding your financials, and confirm everything is accurate as well.
After you get your free credit reports, I recommend you put a credit freeze in place with all three credit bureaus:
- TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
- Equifax: https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze
Read up on it first. You don’t need any sort of monitoring or monthly fee programs, but a credit freeze provides a great deal of protection. You would need to freeze your credit with each agency. If you get a new cell phone plan or an auto loan (or other activities that trigger a credit report), you would ask which company they use to run their credit report and you would need to temporarily lift the freeze.
If you decide against the credit freeze, at least run your free annual credit report annually so that you can verify no one has opened any credit in your name/social security number/etc.