I’ve written before about credit freezes. These are freezes placed with Experian, TransUnion and Equifax so that no one can get credit or loans except the person who placed the freeze. They can be placed by going to the website of these credit rating agencies.

Why are credit freezes useful? Without taking further pro-active steps, any or all of your personal information could be used by identity thieves to open multiple new credit and other accounts, to get loans and ruin your credit. They’d not only use your personal information (e.g., SSNs, addresses) but might be using your name.

A credit freeze is more effective than simply buying credit monitoring or accepting such an offer from a company which has been hacked. Previously, consumers had to pay with each credit rating agency in order to place a credit freeze. Now thanks to recent legislation, consumers can place these freezes for free. Yes, a freeze has to be placed separately with each of the 3 credit rating agencies. And yes, consumers have to contact the credit rating agencies when they want to take out a loan or open a new credit card or financial account.

However, taking the time to create a credit freeze, and then doing a temporary “unfreeze” is a minor inconvenience in contrast to facing all the serious and cascading problems associated with identity theft.

Please share this information with others. There were  millions and millions of individuals whose personal and financial information was stolen by hackers during the breaches of Equifax, the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management or one of the seemingly endless number of breaches.