CREDIT REPORT ADVICE, IDENTITY THEFT, AND TIPS
This is a good time of year to pull free copies of your credit report. The website below is the one mandated by the federal government and will let you get one free copy from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies per year. Either check all 3 at once or spread them out so that you check a different one every 4 months. It will NOT include your credit score; you will need to pay for that unless it comes for free in your personal credit monitoring service.
A very important suggestion: PUT A SECURITY LOCK OR SECURITY FREEZE ON YOUR CREDIT REPORTS.
It must be done for EACH of the 3 reporting agencies separately; even a paid monthly service typically won’t be able to lock all 3 at once.
Keep a lock on all of your accounts at ALL times unless you are actively applying for credit. Both locking and unlocking take 2 minutes, so it is not a huge time burden. Some allow you to set a time when it will automatically freeze again, others you have to manually freeze. If you are purchasing a vehicle and aren’t sure how long it would take, set an “automatic” time of 10 days, then just manually go in and lock it back up if you are approved before the 10 days is up.
Each of the 3 services offers the ability to “lock or freeze” your credit for free. PAY ATTENTION, because the terms “FREEZE” and “LOCK” are different for each service. Example….For Equifax you have to pay for a “credit lock”, but a “security freeze” is free.
Below is the correct free information for each of the services:
I believe you have to set up a free account with each of the services in order to access your “freeze” capability. You should NOT pay for any freeze services, so, if it asks for payment, you’ve accessed the wrong service. For some reason Transunion seems to have a lot of “glitches” and you could frequently be locked out of your own account even after answering the security questions. If it happens to you, don’t panic, just call the number and they’ll help you out.
A credit monitoring service such as LifeLock will save you a lot of time, money, and heartache if you do become a victim of identity theft.