Credit Monitoring Options
Request Credit Reports
To request your free credit reports, visit the central source for free on-line credit reporting at www.annualcreditreport.com. From that site, you can view a copy of your credit report from one or all of the three major agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Or call toll-free (877) FACT-ACT (877-322-8228) to request your free annual reports from the agencies.
Get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company. Consider staggering the requests for a free credit report from each agency throughout the 12-month period.
Credit Monitoring Services
For free you can sign up for credit monitoring services from these two providers:
For a fee, you can purchase services that offer daily monitoring of all three credit bureau reports, as well as checking and savings account application alerts. Potential service providers include:
Check with your credit card company as to whether it offers any form of free credit monitoring that would advise you of activity on your credit file.
Credit Monitoring Options
Credit or Security Freeze
This is a proactive approach to help protect against identity theft. You can request a freeze of your credit report at each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion). With a credit freeze in place, no company (other than your existing creditors or certain government agencies) can look at your credit report, and creditors will not be able to open new accounts. This can be strong protection against someone opening an account in your name. Think of it as a padlock on your credit. But if/when you want to open a new account or apply for a new loan, you’ll have to unfreeze the report at the applicable bureau(s). You will be provided with a password, if you need to unfreeze your credit. It’s important to keep this password in a safe place.
Pursuant to a law effective September 21, 2018, there is no charge to freeze or unfreeze your credit file.
How do I place a freeze on my credit reports?
Contact each of the following nationwide credit reporting companies to freeze at each of the major agencies:
See this link to a guide on how to place a freeze. Clark Howard, a well-known commentator in this field, recommends that you sign up for one of the free credit monitoring services described above before placing a credit freeze. In placing a credit freeze, avoid signing up for offerings like “Credit Lock” or “TrueIdentity.” These are paid products. Placing the credit freeze and unfreezing it are now free by law in all states.
There is a fourth, less utilized credit agency, called Innovis. While this agency doesn’t have as extensive a credit history as the main three, it remains a collector of consumer credit data. Thus, it is included as a fourth agency at which to consider freezing your credit. Industry experts have not come to a consensus on whether it is necessary to also freeze at this fourth, smaller agency, so it is presented as optional.
Also consider placing a credit freeze for your minor children.
To do so, contact each of the following nationwide credit reporting companies and mail the required documents.
For additional security, you also may want to place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert notifies a third party such as potential creditor or lender to take steps to verify your identity before granting credit in your name. Note that a fraud alert, unlike a credit freeze, does not block access to your credit report. A fraud alert is good for a period of one year. If you place a fraud alert at one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion), it will notify the other two of your request.
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