The personal credit records for almost half of the population of the Unites States became fodder for world-wide criminals when Equifax, Inc.’s personal credit data files were compromised in 2017. Despite the magnitude of this and other well publicized data breaches, less than 15% of the affected individuals have taken advantage of any of the precautions available to protect their personal credit records.
One of those precautions is “locking” (or “freezing”) the credit data files the three major consumer credit bureaus keep on you. While not completely preventing identity theft, by locking your credit file you deny criminals access to your personal credit information and reduce the possibility they can use your identity to fraudulently establish credit. If you decide to apply for additional credit, such as credit cards, bank loans, etc., you can temporary unlock of your file.
Credit bureaus previously charged a $10 fee to lock an individual’s credit file, but under 2018 federal legislation, effective September 21, credit bureaus must provide locking and unlocking services at no cost. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that you lock your credit files at each of the major credit bureaus; to assist you in this process the FTC has provided an easy to use link at www.identitytheft.gov (see Credit Bureau Contact Info at bottom right of the page). Each bureau has its own procedure for locking credit files, and each Bureau will assign you a unique PIN, which you will need to retain to unlock and relock your credit file: a relatively small inconvenience for protecting your personal credit.
We at Wouch Maloney & Co. are always pleased to be at your service. Please contact us at 215-675-8364 with any questions or for assistance with tax, financial, or accounting matters.