Credit freezing has been in the news a lot lately. In the wake of the massive Equifax data breach, 143 million consumers were left with exposed personal information. Hackers stole names, birthdates, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, and, most importantly, Social Security numbers. This gives identity thieves who get their hands on this data enough information to open fraudulent accounts. For this reason, a lot of consumers in Minnesota and across the U.S. are freezing their credit. Of course, credit freezing offers protection against identity theft. However, the process may cost money and cause frustration. It also isn’t entirely foolproof. Therefore, Minnesota consumers considering credit report freezing should know all of the details before jumping on board.
What Minnesota Consumers Should Know about the Credit Freezing Process
First, concerned Minnesota residents should know what a credit freeze is. When you freeze a credit report (you must freeze them individually), lenders and creditors cannot access your credit information. This means that anyone who applies for credit in your name gets rejected when the credit freeze is in place. This deters fraudsters from opening bogus accounts, but it also prevents you from gaining access to new credit unless you unfreeze your credit report.
Under the pressure of a lot of criticism, Equifax temporarily lifted fees on both credit freezing and unfreezing. Yet, neither TransUnion nor Experian have offered to do the same. Fees for credit report freezing vary from state to state. In Minnesota, it costs $5 to freeze or unfreeze credit. So, Minnesota consumers who want to freeze all three of their major credit reports, will pay $10 right now. After Equifax restarts its credit freezing fees, they will pay $15. Victims of identity theft, on the other hand, pay nothing for credit freezing in any state.
Why Credit Freezing Doesn’t Offer Complete Protection for Minnesota Consumers Affected by the Equifax Data Breach
Yes, implementing credit freezes prevents scammers from opening new accounts in your name with your Social Security number. However, they will not help Minnesota consumers whose credit card numbers are stolen. In order to properly deal with this issue, you should check your financial statements frequently, and monitor your credit reports.
If possible, you should also set up alerts with your banking institution and credit card providers. These alerts let you know about activity associated with your accounts. As for your credit reports, you can check them for free once every 12 months. Signing up for a credit monitoring service is also a good idea, but these normally cost around $20 a month. Although, Equifax is temporarily offering one year of their TrustedID Premier credit monitoring product for free.
A Possible Alternative to Credit Freezing for Affected Minnesota Consumers
Minnesota consumers expecting to apply for a loan or new credit card in the near future may not want to freeze their credit reports right away. Instead, they might opt to set up fraud alerts with TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Fraud alerts on credit reports alert lenders to verify the identity of anyone who tries to open a new account under a particular name. By implanting fraud alerts, you get protection against identity thieves without impairing your own ability to get new credit.
A Game Plan for Minnesota Identity Theft Victims
If you find suspicious items on your credit reports, such as fraudulent accounts or bogus charges, file a police report first. You will need a copy of your police report in order to repair your credit reports later. Next, call Credit Repair Lawyers of America in Minnesota. When you contact our firm, an experienced credit attorney will handle the entire credit repair process and get you clean credit reports. Even if this involves filing lawsuits on your behalf, all of our services are free to Minnesota clients.
The Free and Legal way to Get Better Credit After Identity Theft
Don’t let fraudulent accounts caused by identity theft bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? The law allows us to collect our fees and costs from the defendants in any successful action. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (612) 235-4458 or sending him a message through our contact page.
For more information about Free Credit Repair After Identity Theft, please visit www.creditrepairlawyersam.com/minnesota/id-theft/.