Credit Protection

It’s an unfortunate sign of the times when it seems every day we hear about a new data breach, exposing personal, private information to hackers.  Most recently, an estimated 143 million people had their personal information exposed through the Equifax breach.  So what are some things you can do to protect yourself; more specifically, how do you protect your credit?  Here are three ways you can reduce your risk and avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:


There a three main credit agencies, i.e., Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), each of these agencies must provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months.  It is important to take advantage of this.  When reviewing your reports, please ensure all accounts and liabilities listed are legitimate and accurate.  If you find a discrepancy, you have a problem and need to address the matter immediately. 

**Think of this approach as similar to reviewing your credit card statement.  Are there any purchases on there that are not from you?  If so, time to take action.**


Credit monitoring is a service that alerts you—via phone and/or electronically—when there is a “hit” on your credit, such as when a person submits a loan application.  There are a lot of companies that offer credit monitoring services for a fee.  A free option you can take advantage of is through  The downside of CreditKarma is that it only monitors two of the three main credit bureaus.  With that said, two out of three is better than none. 

**Think of this approach as a security system.  When the alarm system is triggered, it sounds off and alerts you of a robbery in progress.**


The freezing method does require the most work on your part; however, it does provide the most comprehensive protection.   The system works by placing a block on anyone accessing your credit report to approve of new accounts and credit applications.  In order for your credit to be accessed, you must first use a personal pin number you select to “thaw” or unfreeze your credit.  By thawing your credit, you temporarily permit financial institutions to process applications for checking & saving accounts, credit cards, lines of credit, or loans. It will potentially cost $10 for each freeze and unfreeze request, but there are exceptions in Florida.  The $10 fee is waived if you are at least 65 years old or can show you are a victim of identity theft.  Furthermore, residents of Florida can extend a credit freeze on young children—something we strongly suggest. 

**Think of this approach as having an extremely secure vault.  The only way in is to know the code.**

The easiest way to set up a credit freeze is to visit each agency’s website listed below:

Experian credit freeze

Equifax credit freeze

TransUnion credit freeze

If you prefer to set up the freeze via certified mail, here are some instructions from Consumer Union security freeze information