October 1, 2014
Steps for preventing identity theft

A client of ours recently had her Social Security number stolen and is dealing with getting this situation resolved.  We wanted to use this as a reminder to our clients about planning you can take to prevent identity theft.

One of the proactive steps you can take is to place a security freeze on your credit reports with the 3 major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion).  This way, in case your identity is stolen, credit cards and other debt can't be opened up in your Social Security number (because when the improper account applications are processed, a credit check is done through these credit reporting agencies, account would be frozen, and the application would be rejected).

It costs $5 per agency to place this freeze (if you're already a victim of identity theft, then this is free to do).  You'll then receive a confirmation number from each agency.  You then have the ability to temporarily or permanently lift the freezes using this confirmation number via each agency's website / phone number.  For example, you may be refinancing your mortgage or applying for a home equity line of credit where you legitimately want to allow your credit to be checked.  It costs $5 per agency (for non-victims) to temporarily or permanently lift the freeze (sometimes the financial institution is only checking your credit with 1 of the 3 agencies, so you only have to lift 1 of the 3 freezes for the transaction).

You can place a security freeze with each agency as follows:

  1. Equifax - https://www.freeze.equifax.com/
  2. Experian - https://www.experian.com/freeze.center.html
  3. Trans Union - http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-freezes.page

In addition, the last 2 pages of these instructions offer helpful information about how to avoid identity theft, as well as what to do if you're a victim of identity theft. 

We hope you find this informaiton useful, and please let us know if you have any questions about this.  Thank you again for having us be your advisor!