7. Is a freeze the only way to protect my credit?
No. Another option is the aforementioned “credit lock,” an offering from credit bureaus which bears some important differences from a credit freeze. Unlike a credit freeze, which is governed by state law, a credit lock is a contract between you and the bureau. Credit locks can cost up to $25 per month, depending on the provider and level of services you want. Typical for-fee services include access to credit scores on demand, social security number monitoring and identity theft insurance. These services are not currently part of credit freeze protections.
To unlock your credit, you’ll use a mobile app instead of a PIN. It’s important to note that employers and others may still be able to view your credit history even if you have a lock in place, depending on the state where you live. Read each credit bureau’s credit lock terms and conditions to learn more.
8. I’m active duty military. Do I get any special benefits?
Yes. Active duty service members and their spouses are entitled to free electronic credit monitoring services and education. If you are active duty military, get in touch with your on-base personal financial manager.
9. How else can I protect myself from financial fraud and identity theft?
There are several things you can consider doing.
Ask each bureau for a fraud alert. A fraud alert requires new lenders and others establishing a new account in your name to take extra steps to verify your identity. As of September 2018, a fraud alert expires after one year. Victims of identity theft who can document their case qualify for extended fraud alert protection of seven years.
Check transactions regularly. Remember, neither a freeze nor a lock protects your existing card accounts. Review your purchase activity regularly, and notify lenders and others immediately if you notice fraudulent charges.
Check your credit reports once per year. It’s free when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com.
Other tips include setting up automated notifications when unusual spending occurs, using difficult-to-remember passwords, using different passwords for each online account, and only providing your social security number when absolutely necessary.