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  • Writer's pictureDr. Disha

Safeguard Your Financial Future: The Power of Credit Freezes

Recently, one of my close friends fell prey to a phishing scam, leaving her vulnerable to potential identity theft.


It was a wakeup call for us all, revealing a stark reality—many aren't aware of the simple yet powerful tool that is credit freezing.


Freezing our credit as a basic measure to protect one’s identity, like having insurance, or looking both ways before crossing a road.


The Need for Credit Freezes

Imagine having the ability to slam the door shut on unauthorized access to your credit report.


That's precisely what a credit freeze offers.


Free credit freezes started on Sept 21st, 2018, after the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law on May 24th, 2018. 


Credit freezes empower individuals to restrict access to their credit reports, effectively thwarting would-be identity thieves from opening fraudulent accounts in their name.


It's like putting a security gate around your financial history, safeguarding it from prying eyes and malicious actors.


Personal Experience


I've had my fair share of encounters with financial fraud. Once, during my residency, my wallet was stolen from a busy ER nurses station.


Since I was a poor resident, I definitely didn’t have any cash in the wallet.


I didn’t think they had much to steal.


I quickly called all my banks, deactivated my cards, and requested new ones.


I thought I was in the clear. A couple of months later, I checked my credit report and sure enough, someone had tried to start a line of credit at a bank that I was not affiliated with.


While I didn’t have much money, I did have a good credit history and that’s what they went after. It was a stark reminder that even with limited resources, our credit history is a prized possession for fraudsters.


How to Freeze Your Credit


Thankfully, freezing your credit is a straightforward process. Simply visit the websites of the three major credit bureaus - Equifax (800-685-1111), Experian (888-397-3742), and Transunion (888-909-8872)- or give them a call.


By initiating a credit freeze, you're putting up a formidable barrier against financial fraudsters, effectively safeguarding your financial future.


Protecting Your Loved Ones


Don't stop at just securing your credit. Extend the shield of protection to your loved ones, including your children. By freezing their credit, you're ensuring that no one can exploit their identities for nefarious purposes.


While it may require a bit of paperwork, the peace of mind it brings is priceless.


Fraud Alerts


If you have been a victim of identity theft, the above-mentioned credit reporting agencies also allow you to place a “fraud alert” on your credit. 


This measure requires creditors who check your credit report to even further steps to verify your identity before issuing new credit or opening an account.  A fraud alert can last up to one year, unless you remove it sooner. 


Pulling It All Together


In a world where financial fraud lurks around every corner, credit freezes emerge as a vessel of hope.


They offer a proactive approach to safeguarding our financial identities, ensuring that our hard-earned credit histories remain ours and ours alone.


So, take the reins of your financial future today - lock your credit, and stride ahead with confidence.


Stay frugal, y'all!

Disha

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