I have written a few articles on the credit freeze and protecting your credit reports. I wanted to give specifics now that I have been through the process. As a refresher, a credit freeze puts a lock on your credit reports where no one can get into them. Only you can "un-freeze" them. You have three credit reports. So, you have to go through the freeze process with all three credit reporting agencies - Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The great news is that it is free. New legislation that went into effect in September made the identity theft protection tool free.
You set them up online. You create an account and set a PIN. That PIN is critical to remember because it is the key that locks and unlocks your credit reports. Of course, the only time you would unlock the credit report is when you need a creditor to check your credit. You unlock it and then lock it back. Here are the links -
TransUnion Go here for the link - https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
The hardest part of this process with TransUnion is finding where you set it. They have it cleverly hidden. Use the link above - it takes maybe 5 minutes and is the easiest of the 3.
Go here for the link - https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
This one was also easy taking roughly 5 minutes to set up.
Go here for the link - https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
This was the hardest one. I did something wrong and it locked me out. The site said it had to mail (yes mail - not email) me a code. It was very irritating. I guess 2 out of 3 is not bad for the first try.
Now that you have them locked up, does it mean you cancel credit monitoring? It is up to you. It would add an extra layer of protection. I don't think that anything is foolproof. Although this is as foolproof as you can get. Before locking them up, it probably is a good idea to take a look at your credit reports and make sure that they are correct and that nothing suspicious is showing up.
Even though your credit reports are frozen, still remain on-guard and vigilant. Remember it is not a matter of if you will become a victim, it is a matter of when. Why so pessimistic? The statistics say there is a high probability that your personal information will be compromised!