Almost all of us are victims of identity theft.
Have you ever been issued a new credit card number by your credit card company without requesting one? That’s an indication your number was possibly acquired by computer hackers or there was unauthorized activity on the credit card.
Here are some FREE steps you can take to defend your credit from identity theft.
The first is to periodically get and review your credit report. You can get it for free at annualcreditreport.com. By limiting your request to one credit bureau, you can get a report quarterly. The major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis.
A second step is to get a credit freeze.
In a mortgage update class yesterday, I learned about some smartphone apps for quick and easy control of access to your credit files. It’s controlled using an “on/off” switch. You can get them at the Apple Store or Google Play. They are free.
For Equifax, the app is Lock & Alert.
For Experian, the app is Identity Works.
For TransUnion, the app is MyTransunion.
There’s no need to get an “enhanced” version of an app for which you are charged. The basic “free” app is sufficient.
It’s also a good idea to request a credit freeze for your minor children. Children are the most popular targets of identity thieves today, because “no one is looking” until the child is age 18.
Telephone numbers for requesting a credit freeze are:
- Equifax 800-349-9960, option one (automated) or 888-298-0045 (attended.)
- TransUnion 888-909-8872, Option 3
- Experian 888-397-3742, Option 1, Option 2
You must request the credit freeze for each credit bureau.
You can also request free Fraud Alerts. If you request them from one credit bureau, the others are also notified.
- Equifax 800-525-6285
- Experian 888-397-3742
- TransUnion 800-680-7289
Be alert for “phishing” texts, telephone calls and emails trying to get access to your computer, smart phone or other information. People are commonly getting telephone calls from the “IRS” and the “Social Security Administration” alerting them to collection actions or other matters. These agencies do not call people. They send letters. Emails are also being “sent” by major institutions like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Don’t respond to them by clicking on anything in the email. Look at your account online or call a representative using the telephone number on your credit card.
It’s a shame that identity thieves are making the internet and smart phones unsafe.
It’s prudent to protect yourself. Anyone who has had a serious identity theft experience can tell you it’s miserable to clean it up.