Credit scores are like trust; they take years to build and seconds to break. Protect your credit and download the credit bureau apps.
Each credit bureau offers the option to freeze, and unfreeze, your credit report for free. A credit freeze prevents companies from checking your credit to open new accounts.
Be sure to join us at our monthly “money matters” meetings where we discuss other topics to enhance your overall financial well-being.
Credit Report Apps
In your phone’s app store search for TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Then look for their respective apps and download them. Register for each app and lock your credit. The whole process will take you about twenty minutes.
Free Annual Credit Report
You are able to check your report annually for free via AnnualCreditReport.com. The “catch” is that you will not receive your credit scores. They will require that you pay for the score, which is unnecessary.
The purpose of the free reports is to inform you of what’s being report to the credit bureaus so that you can ensure the information is accurate.
A credit freeze blocks outsiders from opening an account in your name because they don’t know your secret PIN. You must complete the process with each bureau. Keep careful record of your PIN in case you need to access your account.
The process for freezing asks you to answer three questions about accounts you have had in the past and takes about seven minutes per reporting agency to complete.
Aside from the apps, you can call each bureau as well.
- Equifx: (800) 349-9960 (Automated, Option 1) or (888) 298-0045 (Live)
- TransUnion: (888) 909-8872 (Option 3)
- Experian: (888) 397-3742 (Option 1 followed by Option 2)
If you freeze your account, it can still be seen by you, your existing creditors, debt collectors acting on their behalf, and government agencies (for subpoena or search warrants).
Protect a Minor’s Credit
You can freeze the credit of a minor if you’re the guardian. In these instances the freeze cannot be done over the phone; you will need to mail a form to the credit bureaus.
TransUnion’s requirements to freeze a minor’s credit can be used as a guide for what may be required with Equifax and Experian. In short, they’ll require a written request to freeze the credit as “sufficient proof of authority” to act on behalf of the minor.
The first step in this process should be to print your credit report and check it for discrepancies. Fortunately, there is a site that allows the user a credit report from each reporting agency, Equifax, Experian and/or TransUnion.
Credit Monitoring & Alerts
We recommend credit freezes for maximum protection. There are other actions that can be taken to protect your credit. You can paid for credit monitoring and/or issue a fraud alert.
Credit Monitoring is a paid service like Life Lock. Upon retaining their services, the company watches your credit and will notify you if there is something suspicious. In some cases, they may assist you in dealing with fraudulent activity.
A fraud alert is done through the credit reporting bureaus and notifies you when anyone opens an account in your name, including you. It’s free and renewable. For a fraud alert, only one of the three credit bureaus must be notified.