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Why I'm Not Going to Freeze My Credit and What I Will Do Instead

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Why I'm Not Going to Freeze My Credit and What I Will Do Instead

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Why I'm Not Going to Freeze My Credit and What I Will Do Instead

Do you know you can put an almost indefinite freeze or fraud alert on your credit record if you are in the military? In most states, you have to be a victim of fraud, and show proof or pay $10 to freeze and unfreeze your credit. Many credit freezes are only authorized for 90 days and then automatically unfreeze. Why would you want to freeze your credit? Because you are afraid of identity theft and don't want others to open up credit accounts in your name. It happens all the time, and many don't notice there is anything wrong until they themselves try to get credit or a mortgage or other financial product. At first, I thought, let's do it. It'll be peace of mind, right? No one would be able to open an account in my name, so I wouldn't have to worry about any unauthorized cards or illegal activity in my name. I've come to find out it would be more of a hassle and not only because I'd have to unfreeze our accounts if we wanted to refinance one of our mortgages or open another credit card, but for another reason I hadn't thought of.

We typically buy a certificate of deposit (CD) every few months. I also like to shop around mutual funds. If I freeze our credit record, I won't be able to do that. You would only be able to purchase financial products at a bank you already do business with. Well, that would defeat the purpose of shopping around! So I decided against it. Instead, I will follow these tips to keep a close hold on our credit:

  • I will get a free credit report every three months.
  • I will never answer any emails asking for personal information, and if I have an account with a financial company, I will always access my account by visiting their site directly (I type it in the browser window).
  • I will not put any personal information on any networking site, to include my name, address, phone number or birthday. I will use a fake name and fake birthday information if asked.
  • I will shred all outgoing paper that has our name, address or any personal information on it.
  • I will not put outgoing mail in our mailbox, and especially not anything with personal information or checks inside. That's just asking for it right there!
  • I will not log into banking or personal sites on hotel computers. Many hotel computers are infected with key logging software that records your keystrokes. Many hotel personnel are unaware of this and frankly, it's so easy for these thieves to upload one of these programs and then download the information later. Don't risk it.
  • I will not transmit passwords or personal information over any WIFI networks. Thieves regularly sit and intercept these transmissions, especially at airports. I once saw a documentary where thieves drove around your neighborhood, looking for unsecured home networks to log on. Don't leave your home network unsecured and make sure it has the latest security technology (thieves regularly defeat some of the older ones, making them useless).
What do you do to try to protect your identity? I realize nothing is fool-proof, but if there is a way to make it harder on the thief, they will move onto someone or something else.



Blogger Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

I tell all my clients to invest in a shredder (cross-cut). They only cost about $30 and are worth every penny compared to identity theft.

Other things that help:
-having paychecks and government checks direct deposited into your bank account (they checks never end up in your mailbox)
-on-line banking (from a secure system) will allow you to verify your accounts every day to immediately catch unauthorized transactions
-and DEFINITELY get regular credit reports
-never click on links within any e-mails claiming to be from your bank, open your browser and type in the website manually

April 4, 2008 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Like you, I shred all mail...and all other documents that might be considered sensitive...including hubby's work rosters and schedules. I keep a close eye on my credit, getting the free credit reports as I can. I've removed a good amount of personal information on networking sites. I only access my financial accounts through home.

I didn't even THINK about keylogging at hotels. I'll have to remember that. Do you suppose that applies if you're using your own computer on their hi-speed or wireless? I know that when we were in transit, I used either the library or the hotel computers all the time to do my banking and such...something to remember. If they don't keylog when you're on wi-fi or hi-speed, I'll have to use that as a tool to get my hubs to buy a laptop!

April 4, 2008 at 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeremy Duffy said...

You have a solid argument for why you may not want a credit freeze. However, you may not have considered something.

First, no freezes unfreeze by themselves. They require specific action. Fraud alerts do unfreeze however so maybe that's what you were thinking of.

Secondly, you can unfreeze your credit for a period of time of your choosing (best choice when shopping around for credit). If you were to check the normal places you go for CDs, I bet they only use one of the three credit reporting companies meaning it would only be one fee to unfreeze.

Also many states charge less than $10 to unfreeze and, as you already said, if you have evidence of ID theft, it costs nothing (in any state).

Worst case scenario, you go shopping twice a year and unfreeze all 3 accounts at $10 each. It costs you $60 a year to do this. That's HALF the cost of ANY credit monitoring or insurance plan and it actually protects your credit (which the others don't).

If you still didn't do it, I would understand, but keep in mind you can still get a freeze even in your situation. Cheers!

April 4, 2008 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Excellent points! Yes,fraud alerts are different from credit freezes..I should've been more clear on want the freeze if you want to be proactive. I've read the fraud alerts are not as effective but also can be used as tool to thwart criminals!

April 7, 2008 at 3:28 PM  

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