By Amanda Thomas, MS, CFP®
If you are one of the thousands of people who froze their credit reports after the Equifax breach, you got a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Transunion). Yet you might be wondering “I feel better protected from anyone trying to open up a fraudulent account in my name, but what happens if I need to get credit, like a car purchase or a home mortgage. How do I do that?”
Here are three ways you can lift or cancel a credit freeze:
- You can take off that permanent freeze whenever you want. It then opens it up again for any fraudsters to get in there again, but then you can just set up a credit monitoring system (like Lifelock or IdentityForce) to monitor it on an ongoing basis.
- You can do a “company specific” unfreeze for a mortgage company, for example. All three bureaus let you do this, and you either name the company you want to see your credit, or each bureau gives you a PIN that you pass on to that company and they use that PIN to look at your credit. But, don’t count on that company specific PIN or naming the company in the unfreeze to work all of the time. Some companies can use the PIN, some cannot. If not, then you have to unfreeze your three bureaus for a certain date range, giving the company enough time to pull your credit.
- Do a temporary “lift” where you put a specific date range when your credit is opened up to anyone wanting to inquire. Once that end date passes, your credit is back on permanent freeze until you want to unlock it again. There is a cost of $10 per bureau to do this, except for Equifax which is offering it for free for a while. Hopefully, no fraudsters try to obtain credit in your name in that unfreeze window, but if you have a credit monitoring company in place, then you should be alerted if something like that happens.
At Mission Wealth, our security policy ensures our clients are protected. Here are a few of the precautions we take to reduce fraud:
- All wire or distribution requests have to be verified with a phone call.
- Any distribution requests to addresses or non-linked accounts (such as indicated above) can’t be done without you signing new paperwork authorizing such a distribution (per Schwab and Fidelity rules, they will not act on instructions from our office without your signature).
- If someone (including you) tries to change your address, you are notified of such a change, and your account is put on distribution restrictions for a period of time.
Additionally, our client portal uses the following 4 levels of security on transmission / viewing:
- SSL 128bit encryption
- X509 certificate
- Time stamping with time limited allowed variation
- SSL HTTPS encryption using a private key
Access is only granted with a valid user name, unique password including numbers and a private “phrase.” Site access is also nsProtect™ monitored.
READ MORE: It Happened to Me: Identity Theft
READ MORE: Top 10 Tips to Avoid Identity Theft