If you live in any of these states – New Jersey, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, Nth. Carolina, Sth. Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin- then you have the right to place a security freeze on your credit file to try to protect yourself from Identity Theft. A security freeze simply means that your credit files cannot be shared with other potential creditors.
To place a security freeze on your credit files, what you have to do is write to each of the 3 credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Then when the freeze is placed, a potential creditor who looks at your files will see a message or a code that your file is frozen. This is why many people quite often freeze their credit files only after an incident of ID Theft.
Sounds advantageous if you’re an identity theft victim right? Somewhat. Why you ask? Because financial identity theft represents just one form of identity theft. Unbeknownst to many people, in addition to financial ID theft, there are 4 more types of Identity Theft, which include criminal identity theft, DMV identity theft, social security identity theft, and medical identity theft. And a credit freeze will not protect you from any of these aforementioned forms of ID Theft.
Let’s define the 5 types of ID Theft:
1. Financial ID Theft – otherwise at times known as credit card fraud, but can be far more reaching where bank accounts or loans are opened under your name.
2. Criminal ID Theft – when a criminal assumes your ID and commits crimes under your name. The criminal is subsequently arrested, bonded, and never appears to court. As a result, an arrest warrant is issued under your name.
3. DMV ID Theft – when a criminal assumes a driver’s license under your name for which you are never aware of until the criminal is arrested and his/her true identity is discovered.
4. Social Security ID Theft – when a criminal assumes your name to gain social security benefits or even takes on a job with your ID. Very prevalent with illegal immigrants who use false ID’s and real SS#’s to obtain work.
5. Medical Identity Theft – this form of ID Theft can literally kill you. When a criminal is admitted to a
hospital and obtains medical treatment under your name, all the medical information and medication prescribed is now merged with your medical files through a central database shared
by hospitals and health insurance companies.
So let’s ask the question again. Does freezing your credit files prevent ID Theft from happening to you? As you can now see, the answer is no.
The reality is that there is no magic bullet out there that will prevent ID Theft from happening to you. And whether ID Theft happens or not, is no longer the question of the day anymore. The reality is that it’s only a matter of when it happens, and then to what extent.
So the answer to this dilemma is to maintain vigilant. One of the best ways to keep an eye on your credit is by employing an effective credit monitoring program. But again, credit monitoring only watches out for financial identity theft. That’s why it’s important to also consider taking advantage of a credit restoration program that also includes credit monitoring services. Reason being, when Identity Theft does hit, you won’t have to take the time off from work to make countless of calls to financial institutions, creditors, and collection agencies. The service will do all that for you on your behalf.