credit & debt

Credit Freezes Aren't Foolproof

Why you should still be periodically checking all three credit reports.

Question: My wife and I both froze our credit reports to prevent identity theft. With the freeze in place, is it safe to stop checking our credit reports periodically? - G.W., Chantilly, Va.

Answer: A credit freeze is not a foolproof mechanism to protect against ID theft, and it’s still a good idea to check your credit reports regularly. You can get a free copy of your report from each of the three credit bureaus every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com. (The freeze doesn’t affect your ability to check your report.)

A freeze prevents new creditors from accessing your credit report, making it more difficult for ID thieves to take out new credit in your name. But “a freeze does not prevent someone from using an existing account to make fraudulent charges, which is far more common,” says Rod Griffin, director of public education for credit bureau Experian. When you check your report, “you may also find evidence of fraud, such as variation in your name spelling, Social Security number or other identification,” he says. Report any suspicious information or errors to the credit bureau. Go to Experian.com, Equifax.com and TransUnion.com to place a temporary fraud alert for suspicious activity or to dispute information on a report.

Most Popular

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of
careers

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of

It’s tough to change, but your job could depend on it. Be flexible in your career goals – and talk with your kids about their own aspirations, because…
September 13, 2021
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom
commodities

7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom

These seven commodity stocks are poised to take advantage of a unique confluence of events. Just mind the volatility.
September 8, 2021

Recommended

Think Twice About Applying for Credit
Basics

Think Twice About Applying for Credit

Credit card issuers are offering a lot of incentives, but your credit score could suffer.
August 27, 2021
New Perks From Our Best Rewards Cards
Smart Buying

New Perks From Our Best Rewards Cards

No annual fee, new tiered rewards and more cash back are some of the offerings.
July 24, 2021
Financial Advice from America’s Founding Fathers
credit & debt

Financial Advice from America’s Founding Fathers

What money-management guidance can we glean from the words — and experience — of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and others?
July 1, 2021
Think Twice Before You Close a Credit Card
Smart Buying

Think Twice Before You Close a Credit Card

Even if you’re no longer using it, closing an account could ding your credit score.
June 24, 2021