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How to Protect Your Credit

Your identity is one of the most frustrating compromises one can experience. There is no great way of preventing this from occurring once your information is leaked. There are, however, steps you can take to protect your credit and mitigate the chance of a successful use of your identity.

credit card, bank card, theft

Freeze Your Credit

The first step to protect your credit is to freeze it. The best way to start is to tackle the top three credit bureaus. The major three credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. There are other credit bureaus, but by freezing your credit with these three first, you will prevent the majority of fraudulent attacks. Each bureau provides an option for you to freeze your credit. A credit freeze is simply a hold on your credit that will not allow for new accounts to be opened when queried by an institution. A credit freeze is not permanent and can easily be removed if you wish to open a new account. Freezes can be submitted online, over the phone, or postal mail.

Equifax

Website

Phone
(888) 685-1111

Mail
Complete this form
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348-5788

Experian

Website

Phone
(888) 397-3742

Mail
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013 

TransUnion

Website

Phone
(888) 909-8872

Mail
TransUnion
P.O. Box 160
Woodlyn, PA 19094 

Check Your Credit

The next step is to be sure you recognize all the activity on your credit report. Visit annualcreditreport.com and review all three of your credit reports. Be sure to check for new or unfamiliar activity. 

If you suspect you might be a victim of identity theft, request a fraud alter from each credit reporting company.

Monitor Your Credit

Credit monitoring services can alert you to any suspicious activity on your credit report, which can provide an early indication of identity theft. This early detection can help you take action to minimize the damage. Additionally, credit monitoring often offer regular updates on your credit score. Knowing that an eye is kept on your credit can provide peace of mind, especially in the age where identity theft is a significant concern.

While these services are often paid, some monitoring can found for free through credit card companies, financial institutions, and other online services (i.e. Internet protection).