On September 23, I received a notification from my credit monitoring subscription that someone had applied for credit using my Social Security Number. I called the creditor and let them know it was fraud. On October 10, I received another notification… a different creditor. I called them. On October 11 & 15 same thing so I “froze” my Experian file… On October 17 I received a notification that Experian blocked an attempt to access my credit and that there was a “hit” to my Transunion profile. (I thought I was freezing Transunion & Equifax on 10/17 – oops!) I then spent some time ensuring that all 3 were “frozen”… 5 “hard” inquiries to my credit report inside of about 3 weeks. Ouch! 4 out of 5 of the creditors said they would report to the bureaus that those inquiries were fraudulent and that it could take 90 days for those to fall off my report. So, while I was in the Equifax site, I decided I would try to expedite cleaning up my credit and I disputed the 3 inquiries that had showed up there plus 2 addresses that were never my addresses. I should mention that the first time this ever happened to me was about 10 years ago and it probably happens 1-2 times a year (until 2 weeks ago) so those addresses may or may have come from those inquiries. Oh, and did I mention that 3 of those 5 applications resulted in approved credit? In any case, when Experian finished reviewing my dispute, they removed the 2 bogus addresses but told me that the inquiries had happened… so they could not remove them and if I wanted them removed, I had to contact the creditor and ask them to report it as fraud.
Currently, (at least in theory) no one can make an inquiry on my credit. If I want to apply for a credit card, car loan or mortgage, I need to “unfreeze” my report long enough for the lender to check my credit, and then, of course, I’ll want to freeze them again. It’s going to be a hassle, but not as big a hassle as the hours I spent on the phone unwinding all the above mess.
Here’s the bummer… credit monitoring isn’t always cheap… I get 1 service free courtesy of my Capital One card and 1 service free for a year because some company that had my information was breached and as part of a settlement, they offered affected consumers that option (and I took it). [Note: this started happening to me long before the above noted breach.] I strongly recommend you contact your credit card companies and see if membership offers that as a privilege. If it’s free, get it! Seriously! Just get it. And based on my personal experience, if you do not have a company offering it to you for free, you may want to consider paying for it. Be careful about the options you choose though. I’ve been poking around the internet and it looks like most companies that do offer a subscription offer a “1 bureau” option… there are 3 credit bureaus and they don’t all get checked by all creditors. If someone applies for credit with a company that does not check the one you are having monitored, then you still won’t know until they have run up a large bill and I (fortunately) do not know what the process is for unravelling that mess! Of course, another proactive approach would be to contact all 3 bureaus and just freeze your credit, like I have (finally) done.
Here’s how… Go to www.transunion.com/credit-freeze and create an account. You will need to answer some questions that hopefully only you can answer (like “which one of these 5 lenders have you ever had an account with?”). They do that to ensure that you are really you, of course. Then you’ll create a 6-digit pin – put that PIN in a very safe place. Now your credit file is frozen and cannot be accessed until you log back in and give that PIN.
Then go to www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/ – similar process as above, however Equifax will create and issue you a PIN.
Then, if you have a Capital One card and have taken advantage of their CreditWise program, log into that and freeze your Experian file. (that’s how I did it). I am told that the Experian freeze is only effective for 2 months (or maybe that is only through CreditWise… not sure), so I have put in my calendar to re-freeze it every 60 days. Or you can go to www.experian.com/freeze/center.html and I’m sure the process is quite similar to the other 2 bureaus.
Do you even know what is on your credit report? Did you know you can get a free copy twice a year? (of course, if your file is “frozen” you’d have to “unfreeze” to get a copy). If you have not gotten 2 free copies already in 2019, stop right now and visit all 3 bureaus online – If you wait until you want a car loan, or credit card or mortgage to find out what yours says, you may find out you have a lot of cleaning to do before you can get that loan… they can charge you for your credit score, but not to see what good and bad things are on your report.
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Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff