Protecting yourself and your finances is challenging. As we move further away from using cash and checks to pay for things, keeping personal information private is harder.

But with the digitization of payment processes, setting up alerts and protective services is also easier. Learn about your federal rights to services that protect your identity and help you spot and prevent fraud, protecting your finances.

What are fraud alerts?

According to Federal law you have a right to set up fraud alerts for free. This means that when a creditor pulls a report for a loan or services in your name, you’ll get an alert about it.

Some credit cards and banks now provide this service to help you keep your financial information all in one place. That way, you get a notification on your phone through your banking or credit card app when someone files a new loan application in your name.

But you can also set up these alerts with any of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian.

Once you file an alert with one of these bureaus, that bureau will notify the other two. That way, you'll fully be protected should someone try to take out a loan in your name.

Alerts last for one year but can be renewed as often as you like.

Why this matters: The sooner you spot fraudulent activity in your name, the better. With alerts, you can discover credit checks you didn't order to prevent fraud before it impacts your finances and your credit score.

What’s a security freeze?

A security freeze is also known as a credit freeze. When you set up a security freeze, it prevents identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. But be aware that it also prevents you from opening new accounts in your name.

You’ll need to remove the credit freeze before applying for a new line of credit or account, but it’s very easy to remove the freeze. You can place a security freeze on your account for free, and lifting it is also free.

During a freeze, your existing creditors and debt collectors will still be able to see your credit information. Additionally, the government will also still have access to view your credit information.

You can place a freeze on your account using any of the three major credit bureaus. All you need is the following information to set up a freeze:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social security number
  • Date of birth

Once you’ve set up the freeze, the credit bureau will send you a unique PIN. This PIN or password is the only way you can lift the freeze, so keep it handy but secure.

A security freeze does not expire, so it will remain on your account until you remove it.

Why this matters: Having a security freeze means no new lines of credit can be opened as long as it is active.

How do I set up free ID theft protection services?

Even if you haven’t been a victim of a breach, you can purchase these services through a variety of companies for a small annual fee.

But if you receive information about being part of a data breach, you should read the notice carefully. You’ll see information about free ID theft protection services. These services include:

  • Credit monitoring where third-party monitors keep track of your credit and flag concerning transactions.
  • Identity monitoring is a service that watches for signs on the dark web that fraudsters plan to use your personally identifying information for financial gain.
  • Resolution or recovery services help you remedy identity theft events to minimize their impact on your credit long term.

The notice you get about being part of a data breach will include information on how to set up your free ID theft protection services. If you’d like to explore purchasing identity theft services, read up on this article from Consumer Reports for more information first.

Why this matters: Having a service constantly watching out for you is one of the most secure ways you can protect your credit and your finances.

Questions related to your credit and finances

If you still have questions about your credit and how to protect your finances, contact Sunset Finance. We’ll answer your questions and guide you through what you need to know about credit alerts, freezes, and ID theft protection services.

May 18, 2021
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