Patti Phillips
Prudential California Realty
6119 La Granada
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Direct toll free: 800-680-9133
Cell: 619-507-2100 Office: 858-481-2020

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Protect Yourself, Protect Your Credit

We all need to be concerned about identity theft in today’s day and age. No one is immune from it. I’ve had it happen two times in my past, and let me tell you, it’s no walk in the park.

Hours are spent proving to creditors that you aren’t the one who made charges, applied for accounts or cashed checks. Every company seems to have a different policy on what you must do to “redeem” yourself. Obtaining credit in the future can be much more difficult. Believe me- this is not an easy process.

What can you do? One step you may want to try is to “freeze” your credit report. Freezing your credit report stops anyone else from signing up for new credit, such as credit cards, bank accounts, home loans, etc. Once the freeze is put in place, no one can obtain your credit report without special permission from you.

Freezing your credit can be a bit difficult. Typically you have to write a letter to each of the reporting agencies, and may need to pay a fee of about $10.00 to each agency. The agencies also charge to “lift” the freeze when you choose to apply for credit. Once you freeze your file, the bureaus assign you a PIN number, which you will need to remove the freeze from your file. When you want to lift the freeze, you notify the bureaus, specify the amount of time you want the freeze lifted. There will be a fee to lift the freeze. This can get pretty expensive for a family! It could cost as much as $120.00 for a couple- to first freeze their accounts at all 3 agencies, then to lift them if credit needs to be run! It may take up to 3 business days to lift your credit freeze.

Even if you don’t think you would need to “lift” a freeze, there are activities which would generate a need that you might not even think about: changing cell phone companies, obtaining insurance policies, applying for a new apartment, gas, electric or phone utilities. Most of us do some of these activities a number of times a year. Credit freezes are best for those who have little need to apply for new credit- such as under age children, the elderly, etc.

Some states are setting boundaries on the credit reporting agencies, both for how much they can charge, and how quickly they must lift the freeze. Some states are not allowing any charge, while others are limiting the amount that can be charged.

Credit freezes won’t lower your credit score, and you can still order your own credit report as a consumer.

For more information on freezing your credit, and to check your state’s laws check the articles below:

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