As many of you may know, Equifax, one of the three major U.S. credit reporting bureaus, recently announced that it was hacked and sensitive credit information for ~143 million people was stolen.
Because of the increasing frequency of hacking events like this, we have recommended for years that our clients place a permanent security freeze on their credit with each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The benefit of such a freeze is that you or anyone else who tries to access your credit information will be required to provide a unique pin code that is given to you when you place a permanent freeze. The charges to place a freeze and for each time you wish to reopen your credit are modest (ranging from $5 to $15), and they vary by state.
While a permanent security freeze cannot ensure that your sensitive credit information won't be stolen, we consider it a best practice. In light of the recent hack of Equifax, we encourage you to consider placing a permanent security freeze with each reporting bureau if you have not already done so.
The State of California Department of Justice provides information on how you can place a permanent security freeze on your account with each credit reporting bureau here.
Laws and procedures regarding placing a permanent credit freeze vary by state, and most states have enacted new laws that permit such freezes. You can find a summary of each state’s policy and instructions regarding credit freezes here.