How Can I Place A Free Credit Freeze
Experian, TransUnion and Equifax maintain dedicated webpages where you can set up credit freezes. When requesting a credit freeze online, the bureau may supply, or have you create, a personal identification number or password to use when thawing or reactivating your freeze.
- Complete addresses for the past two years
- Date of birth
- One copy of a government issued identification card, such as a driver’s license, state ID card, etc.
- One copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, etc.
Make sure that each copy is legible and displays your name and current mailing address and the date of issue. Send copies of any documents you wish to provide to us and always retain your original documents.
Protect Documents With Personal Information
If you have documents with your childs personal information, like medical bills or their Social Security card, keep them in a safe place, like a locked file cabinet.
When you decide to get rid of those documents, shred them before you throw them away. If you dont have a shredder, look for a local shred day.
Freezing Your Credit Report
Blocking access to information linked to your SSN may not prevent identity thieves from using it to open fraudulent credit card accounts, apply for medical insurance or borrow money. Freezing your file at Experian, Equifax and TransUnion prohibits third party access to your credit reports, which can prevent illicit accounts from being opened in your name. Freezing a credit report also can shield your address and financial information from other prying eyes.
Pre-existing creditors still may access your credit reports for the purposes of monitoring debt, collections and incidents of identity theft.
To freeze your credit files, visit the freeze page on the website of each credit reporting company to find agency and state-specific requirements. You can also freeze your credit report by each credit reporting agency.
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Should You Lock Your Social Security Number
If you have reason to think you might be targeted for identity theft, one option to protect yourself is to lock your Social Security number so no one can use it.
Whether or not you should take that step, also known as feezing your SSN, depends on several factors.
This quick guide will walk you through the process and help you decide whether locking your Social Security number is the right choice for your situation.
Tip : Beware Of Phone And Email Scams
Identity thieves may try to trick you into revealing your SSN. For instance, in a phone or email, they might pose as your employer or a government office requesting information. Avoid sharing your number unless youre positive its a legitimate request.
Better yet, consider calling the requesting organization at a verifiable telephone number to provide the information. Or visit in person.
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Read The Privacy Policies
When Should I Freeze My Credit
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you have more than one option to consider when it comes to protecting your credit. In many cases, a security alert may be sufficient.
When you place a security alert, also known as a fraud alert, you can add a telephone number so lenders can call you when they receive an application and verify that it’s you who is applying. You also can request additional free credit reports when you add an initial security alert or victim statement. Reviewing your report can help you determine whether or not you are a victim and help you take appropriate action.
In more extreme cases in which you’re experiencing ongoing fraud attempts, you may feel a security freeze is necessary.
It’s worth considering taking action to protect your credit if:
- Unexplained bills or collection notices are mailed to your address, in your name or under another’s name.
- New inquiries or credit accounts appear on your credit report, indicating activity with lenders or other companies you don’t recognize.
- Your bank or credit union notifies you about fraudulent activity on an account.
- You receive notification that you are or could be the victim of a data breach.
How Do I Protect My Identity If Ive Lost My Social Security Card
There are several things you can do to minimize the risk that your card or number will be used for illicit purposes.
- Place a fraud alert | Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file. You may also want to place a credit freeze. And, while a credit freeze wont stop the majority of identity theft from occurring, it can alert you to suspicious activity and is an important part of layered protection against identity crime.
- Review your financial statements | You should use to help watch your credit card and bank activity for suspicious activity and review your credit reports. Look over your report for any activity you did not authorize, such as opening a new credit card, and immediately report any fraudulent or inaccurate information to creditors.
- Use an Identity Theft Protection Service | These services ensure that your credit and identity are monitored 24/7 by a team of pros who can also help you restore your identity if it is stolen. Make sure you understand exactly how identity theft protection works before you sign up.
Avoiding Social Security Fraud: Leave Your Social Security Card At Home
Once you receive your replacement Social Security card, lock it away in a safe place until you absolutely need it. Experts advise to avoid carrying your card around on a regular basis partly because of the risk of losing it again, and partly because you really dont need to present your Social Security card on a regular basis. In fact, one Social Security expert says that Social Security cards are irrelevant in the digital age, and the real priority should be targeted at fraud protection.
Its extremely rare that you need your actual Social Security card, says Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., an Amherst, Massachusetts-based college professor whose expertise is in investigating white-collar crime. A Social Security number is the most important piece of information that a criminal can use to make you a victim of identity theft so you shouldn’t carry it with you in your wallet, anyway.
But if you do lose your card, Weisman recommends taking direct action to protecting the cardholder from financial fraud.
Because of the danger of identity theft if your Social Security card is lost, you should put a credit freeze on your credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies in order to prevent someone from leveraging the Social Security number into accessing your credit or establishing accounts in your name, he says.
Other data security experts agree, citing the high risk of losing a card if you cart it around in your wallet or pocketbook.
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Safe Access To Your Account Information
We work with some financial websites and apps to give you control of your financial information and to keep it safe and private. When you use these websites to invest or help manage your finances, you’ll enter your chase.com username and password directly into a secure chase.com window from their website and you’ll only have to give access once.
If you’ve given access to one of our partners, you’ll see them in Linked Apps and Websites, where you’ll be able to remove their access. If you’ve linked your Chase account to apps and websites that aren’t included on that list, you can remove their access at any time by changing your password.
Trust Verify The Recipient
Some people and organizations have a valid reason to receive such documents, including a new employer, your accountant, a bank, a landlord or a school. Even then, though, proceed with caution. Resist surrendering the information to practically everyone else, no matter how innocent their request seems.
Be extremely wary of providing your Social Security number to someone who has called you. You should verify the identity of the person you are speaking with if you didn’t reach out directly.
Just don’t do so by calling back a provided phone number or clicking on a text link. Moreover, unless the answer is obvious the accountant you’ve been using for years to prepare your tax returns ask a would-be recipient why they want the information in the first place and how they intend to secure it. Also ask what will happen if you decline to give out the information.
“Some businesses continue to use Social Security numbers as a means of authenticating customers or simply as a practice they just never let go of, says Kathy Stokes, AARP’s director of fraud prevention programs who also is head of the AARP Fraud Watch Network. Consider pushing back and asking if there’s an alternative.”
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Check Your Annual Earnings Statements
Each year, the SSA issues workers an earnings statement that summarizes their taxable wages and includes an estimate of their retirement benefits. Though both points are important, you should pay close attention to the former, because if the SSA is missing income for you on record, it could cause your benefits to shrink.
If you’re 60 or older, you’ll get your earnings statement in the mail every year. If you’re younger, you’ll need to create an account on the SSA’s website to access yours. But pay attention to the information the SSA has on file, and make every effort to correct mistakes that work against you.
Social Security could end up being a key piece of your personal retirement income puzzle. Do everything you can to avoid losing out on benefits so you don’t wind up struggling financially when you’re older.
When To Get A Credit Freeze
If youre not actively shopping for a credit card or loan, freezing your credit is wise. Now that freezing credit and unfreezing credit are free, NerdWallet recommends that all consumers protect themselves in this way.
If you think your data may have been compromised, for instance in a data breach, get a credit freeze. Its especially key if your all-important Social Security number may have been disclosed.
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Advantages Of Locking Your Ssn
There are several advantages of locking your Social Security number:
- No one can use your Social Security number when its locked
- No one can apply for a job in your name and run up a tax bill for money you never earned
- No one can use your Social Security number to apply for credit or open new accounts in your name
- Anyone attempting to verify your number will receive a notice of tentative nonconfirmation, which is effectively a mismatch the number is not in use
Protect Your Information From Scammers Online And On Your Phone
If youre logging in to an online account, use a strong password.
Add multi-factor authentication for accounts that offer it. Multi-factor authentication offers extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account. The additional credentials you need to log in to your account fall into two categories: something you have like a passcode you get via text message or an authentication app, or something you are like a scan of your fingerprint, your retina, or your face. Multi-factor authentication makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do get your username and password.
Do not give your personal information to someone who calls, emails, or texts you. It could be a scammer trying to steal your information.
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If You Suspect Someone Is Using Your Sin
If you suspect that someone is using your SIN fraudulently, act quickly to prevent personal loss and minimize the negative impact.
Guard Your Personal Information
- Only provide your SSN or financial account numbers online through valid, secure websites. Secure websites often have a lock icon in the lower right-hand corner. A secure websites address will change from http to https.
- Be cautious about providing any personal information online, but keep in mind that some government sites and the credit bureaus require such information. Read privacy policies and ask how your personal information will be used.
- Dont post personal financial information on social networking sites or in chat rooms.
- Beware of websites that ask personal questions or require a credit card number to enter the site.
- Before you do business with a company online, check them out with the Attorney Generals Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or check with the Better Business Bureau.
- Use one low-limit credit card for all online purchases, or request a one-time-use number from your credit card company.
- Choose an alias as a user name and use an alternate email address for online shopping, Internet auctions and other online transactions.
- When selling goods online, watch out for counterfeit checks and money orders. Never agree to wire excess payments back to the buyer or to someone else.
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Fraud Alert: How To Protect Your Social Security Number
In an effort to stop criminal activities, security experts are warning people to use their Social Security numbers only when necessary.
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that just wont seem to end, it appears that scammers have made noticeable efforts to ramp up their game.
We continue to see scam artists use the pandemic to steal money and information from honest taxpayers in a time of crisis, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement.
We provide this list to alert taxpayers about common scams that fraudsters use against their victims. At the IRS, we are dedicated to stopping these criminals, but its up to all of us to remain vigilant to protect ourselves and our families, he continued.
According to AARP, an interest group focusing on issues affecting those over the age of fifty, fraudsters are apparently trying to get their paws on your Social Security number, which they can combine with other personal details theyve obtained about you to open credit accounts, collect unemployment insurance, circumvent your benefits, commit crimes and unleash a whole lot of misery in your name.
Protect Sensitive Information
In an effort to stop such criminal activities, the Social Security Administration and other security experts are warning people to use Social Security numbers only when necessary. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, according to the SSA.
Using Tech to Ones Advantage
How To Freeze Your Childs Credit
Parents and guardians can freeze the credit of a child under 16.
If you request a freeze for your child, the credit bureau must create a credit file for the child, then freeze it. In addition to supplying the information required for an adult credit freeze, youll also need the childs birth certificate and proof that you have standing to freeze the childs credit.
Yes. Placing a freeze on your credit reports can protect you from fraudulent credit applications. Unfreezing your credit is typically quick when you need to apply for credit.
There are some downsides to freezing your credit. You may be susceptible to scams involving your Social Security number and your insurance rate could increase if your state allows insurers to use credit information to set rates.
Credit freeze services are mandated by federal law and are free. A credit lock is an optional service a credit bureau may offer you for a fee, but it offers fewer legal protections than a freeze.
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How A Credit Freeze Works
A credit freeze protects you by blocking access to your . When someone applies for credit using your personal information, a lender or card issuer typically checks your credit before making a decision.
If your credit is frozen, the potential creditor cannot see the data required to approve the application.
You can use a PIN or password to unfreeze your credit when you need it.
Tip : Monitor Your Accounts And Be Aware Of New Accounts Being Opened
If someone obtains your SSN, you may find evidence of unlawful use in your bank, credit, or other accounts. Consider setting up alerts with your financial institutions to flag unusual activity, such as withdrawals or purchases over a certain amount. Watch for changes in your credit score. And check your credit reports. Youre entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
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