Thursday, September 21, 2017

Credit Monitoring or Credit Freeze?

by Merlin Benningfield, Managing Partner - Fast Rhino, LLC

In today's volatile world of digital hacks and data breaches,the chances of having your identity stolen is becoming more and more a certainty than just a possibility.  So how do you protect yourself?

A common way in which criminals can ruin your life is by gaining access to enough personal information about you that they can then apply for credit under your identity.  Your name, address, date of birth, and social security number can be enough information to apply for credit, perform tax refund fraud, medical services fraud, etc...   and this information is quickly finding itself available to criminals on the dark web.

There are a host of companies now that promote credit monitoring services, which may sound like an effective and affordable solution, however, they only detect fraudulent use of your credit file after the fact. A better solution would be to implement a credit freeze.  This helps lock down your credit record and prevents anyone from accessing it without you first "thawing" it.

The United States Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) published a comprehensive document (PDF) discussing the importance of why you should consider placing a freeze on your credit report before your information is stolen. They also have some good advice regarding the recent Equifax breach and how you can protect yourself in that regard.

As I continue to say, the bad guys are using the Internet against us.  The more we learn about their tactics, the less likely we are to become a statistic.