Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’ve probably seen the news that a crap-ton of people’s personal information was exposed through a breach at Equifax, one of the three credit bureaus.
You can check whether you were compromised here: https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html
It turns out that I was compromised. No big deal. Why? Because I’ve frozen my credit, as should every American. It takes 5-10 minutes to do and immunizes you from threats like this.
After freezing your credit, you can unfreeze your credit each time you apply for subsequent credit. In my case, this may potentially be never (I suppose with the exception of occasional credit card bonus chasing).
I loathe our collective addiction to credit, which enables people to consume today at the expense of their own future consumption. After accounting for interest, the forgone consumption exceeds the gain current consumption, creating a net loss for the individual most of the time.
* After reading some Bogleheads forums, you should probably also freeze the following (thanks Scott):
8 thoughts on “You should have frozen your credit years ago”
I have one of those identity theft protection services with id theft insurance (protectmyid from Experian). I honestly don’t know if it would be all that useful in the case of id theft, but at least the insurance gives me some peace of mind…
I think you’re overpaying for identity theft protection. By freezing your credit, you completely prevent fraudulent credit being taken out in your name through two step authentication. I don’t think you gain anything more by paying $XX/month for having a third party “monitor” your credit. I’ve read online that many others share my views.
Recurring cost for freezing credit = $0/year unless you apply for new credit and incur the $3-5 “unfreezing” fee.
Very timely post.
I appreciate you keeping it short and to the point.
I remember years ago when you shared this same info with two to three of us.
It is simple and quick to do and you maintain full control.
I wonder if the three credit reporting services have or would ever release the numbers of how many people do this.
I ask due to the “tipping point” for most people would be understanding that so many others are doing this too.
It’s a good question. I’m not sure the answer of how many to do it. My wife and I do it, so that’s good enough for me. I honestly can’t comprehend why people don’t do it.
I should probably have my kids do it as well. I recently added all 5 as authorized users on my credit card (even my 3 year old) to help them build their credit.
I looked into freezing my kids’ credit files a while back, and it is not so easy/clear how to do it. This link has some information, but it is a little dated now: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/01/the-lowdown-on-freezing-your-kids-credit/
It has always ticked me off that in California I have to pay $10/person/credit bureau to stop them from giving out my information without my consent. It adds up, especially if you are trying to do it for kids also.
Why don’t you add Innovis to your list of credit bureaus? I’ve read that it is important to freeze there also.
It’s $3/person/bureu in my state to freeze credit. I agree that $10 is not trivial. I have tried freezing my kids credit through the normal credit freeze channels, but I have run into errors saying you need to be 18 years old. Apparently you have to go through other channels described here: http://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-for-child/.
Looks like you’re screwed in CA and unable to do it?
I should probably add Innovis and ChexSystems to my list b/c smart people are saying to do it. I know little about either of them, but apparently it’s the smart thing to do? It took me 2 minutes to freeze both for my wife and me. Check out this thread: https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/search.php?keywords=innovis&t=227226&sf=msgonly
It’s absurd to me that we have to “opting in” to freeze our credit rather than “opting out”.
One reason that people may not do this is because roadblocks arise. Today, Experian’s website wants me to send copies of IDs and bank statements via snail mail. Equifax’s website returned a “500 error; system down” message, with no method to proceed. TransUnion’s website simply stated “we are experiencing technical difficulties” and, like Equifax, did not provide information about how to proceed. I am not thrilled that I’ve typed a lot of personal information into unfamiliar websites without once actually achieving the intended goal. Your statement that this takes 5-10 minutes is therefore not true for all people. I have wasted more than one hour, and my identity is now less secure than it was before I started.
Sorry to hear about your horror story. Since freezing my credit years ago, I’ve unfrozen it twice to: 1.) get mortgage, and 2.) get credit card. Both times it took me 5 minutes. I’m not sure why my experience was different from yours.
There is an inherent tradeoff between security and convenience. If you want convenience, you must sacrifice some security. If you want security, you must sacrifice some convenience. I tend to error towards the latter.