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Freezing your credit to protect yourself from fraud

There were 4.8 million reports of identity theft and credit card fraud to the Federal Trade Commission in 2020.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 10:33 AM EDT
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InvestigateTV - There were 4.8 million reports of identity theft and credit card fraud to the Federal Trade Commission in 2020. Those reports totaled $4.5 billion in losses.

One of the best ways to protect yourself if you fall victim to fraud: freezing your credit. Credit freezes are free and experts told me it’s the best way to make sure your information protected from identity thieves.

A credit freeze does not affect your ability to use your credit cards that you already have. It doesn’t change your credit score.

It just makes your credit report off limits to anyone who doesn’t already have access. No one, including a lender, will be able to check it until your unfreeze it, which means it’s highly unlikely a scammer will be able to open up a new credit card in your name.

You can do this over the phone, by mail, or online with each of the three credit bureaus. Just know these bureaus don’t talk to each other, so you’ll have to do this with all three of them: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. Each has a step by step process listed on its websites.

Also, keep track of your PIN and password. It will make your life easier if you have those handy when you need them.

You can temporarily lift a credit freeze at any time in order to apply for a new loan or credit card.