- Susan Snedaker
Lock Your Accounts With Credit Bureaus
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month
This is our fourth and final post for Cybersecurity Awareness in October. Today's focus is on ensuring your information is safe after a breach. These days, it's more common for people to have been part of a breach than not. So, with that unfortunate fact in mind, let's look at how you can safeguard your credit and your credit score.
Locking your accounts with credit bureaus can be a hassle to set up, but once completed, you can feel fairly confident no one is going to open a credit card or mortgage in your name or use your credit to buy a truck you know nothing about.
Locking Your Accounts
The three major credit reporting organizations are Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. You should lock EACH of these. There is no one-stop-shopping here, you have to go to each company's website.
On each website, you can find instructions for locking your account. You'll also find instructions for unlocking your account when you need to. Yes, it's a pain, but if you tackle them one at a time it's a manageable task and one that should allow you to breathe easier afterward. If you have children, look to see if anyone has an account in their name using their social security number.
The Only Downside
The only real downside to locking your credit? If you're applying for a job, for a new mortgage or a credit card, you'll have to unlock all three accounts, allow the credit check to occur (usually 3-5 days in most cases) and then relock the accounts. Yes, it's a hassle, but it beats the alternative.
One final note
If you've been notified that your information was part of any type of breach (retail, healthcare, governmental, financial, etc.), strongly consider locking your credit. Trying to recover your identity after it's been compromised is a very large, difficult, expensive, stressful and time-consuming task that makes locking your credit seem like a very small task indeed.