1. Freeze Your Credit
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, lets you restrict access to your credit report, in turn making it difficult for thieves to open accounts in your name. Freezing your credit never hurts your credit score, and freezes are now free from all three major reporting bureaus. You’ll need to apply for freezes from all three credit bureaus for full protection:
- Equifax: Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
- Experian: Experian.com/freeze/center.html
- TransUnion: TransUnion.com/credit-freeze
2. Put Your Credit on Lock
Credit locks are similar to freezes, but they allow you to “unlock” your credit instantly with the use of an app or by logging on with a username and password, instead of having to remember a PIN and fill out a form. But you should know that it doesn’t come with all the federal legal protections that a freeze does. Credit locks from Equifax and TransUnion are free, but Experian charges $9.99 per month after the first 30 days to use the service.
3. Set up a Fraud Alert
And finally, if you don’t want to freeze or lock your credit, setting up a fraud alert is easier than ever. Just as with freezes and locks, you’ll need to set one up with all three bureaus. But unlike the old days, when you’d have to renew them every few months, you can set up your fraud alerts to last up to 12 months.