What is Identity Theft
Identity theft is when thieves steal your personal information to open new accounts, file tax returns, rent or buy properties, or commit other crimes as if they were you.
Unfortunately, history shows us that companies are generally terrible at protecting your personal information. Freezing your credit is important because it can protect you even when a company loses your information.
Even your most important data, called personally identifiable information, or “PII data,” gets stolen frequently. Examples of PII data are dates of birth, social security numbers, and many more. An identity thief can use any piece of your personal information against you.
Check if you are at Risk
You can use the free tool called Have I Been Pwned as a fast way to check whether your information was part of a large data breach. Have I Been Pwned searches your email address against a massive database of compromised records, and returns a list of data breaches that includes your email address in them. If I Have Been Pwned finds your information in several breaches, then you are at a higher risk of identity theft, and we recommend keeping your credit frozen when you don’t need to use it.
Latest Data Breaches:
Freeze Your Credit Often
How many times each year do you apply for a new credit card, auto financing, or another type of loan? Probably not very many, compared to all of the other days in a year. When you apply for credit is when your files should be unfrozen, so a lender can approve your new account.
For the other 300+ days of the year that you are not applying for new loans or credit cards, keep your credit frozen. This approach ensures that you are keeping your identity theft risk as low as possible.
Freezing your credit is like putting a lock on your personal credit report, and only you have the key. Always freeze your credit when you don’t need to use it.
If your credit is already frozen, see Guides to Unfreeze.