In 2013, when Edward Snowden let the cat out of the bag and exposed Uncle Samâ€™s Mass Surveillance Project to the public, all of America was in shock. The masses at large couldnâ€™t gulp in the fact that their regime has put them under severe surveillance. The surveillance included but was not limited to phone tapping, and monitoring their emails alongside their bank transaction.
This development stirred up the debate of Constitutional validity of electronic surveillance. The government defended itself by saying that it didnâ€™t intend to strip naked its citizens and infringe their privacy. However, this mass electronic surveillance was put in place to counter terrorist activities. The authorities suspected that terrorism was fueled by both citizens inside of the U.S and foreign nationals.
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However, these states do not do justice to the mental harassment which people go through if their identity gets stolen. On top of this, it takes a herculean effort to redeem the reputation and credit.
Just when the people started to learn about what Identity theft is, came another Shocker.
In September 2017, hackers breached the security layers of credit bureau Equifax and gained access to the PII (Personally Identifiable Information) of 143 million Americans. Following this, many financial experts suggested people to freeze their credit. Mainly because no one could open another line of credit in consumersâ€™ name and dismantle their credit. Perhaps, the most feasible way of risk mitigation.
The trend of freezing credit spread like a wildfire. Young Americans and those with higher income streams were the first to freeze their credit.
However, there still a considerable population of America, as good as 2/3rd, that hasnâ€™t frozen its credit. One reason is that a vast majority of them donâ€™t understand how credit freeze works. Second, the question â€“ â€˜Why do I need to freeze my credit?â€™Â besides,Â â€˜How do I freeze my credit?â€™
Many consumers undermine the importance of the credit freeze. They believe that the storm has passed since a year has passed after the hackers broke into the servers.Â Little do they know, that hackers sit on the stolen data before making any economically viable gains out of that data. Moreover,Â there is no way that a consumer can rest assured that his identity wasnâ€™t amongst the 143 million identities.
If you are one of those ignorant Americans who have remained indifferent to this colossal security breach, you are still not too late. It makes much sense to know â€˜what is a credit freezeâ€™ and â€˜how to freeze your creditâ€™.
Donâ€™t tell me that you have taken the word freezing quite literally and you are thinking of a credit card being enclosed in a block of ice. Albeit, some enthusiasts might even suggest that in the wake of impulse purchasing.
Actually, a credit freeze makes your credit file inaccessible to lenders. Barely any lender would open a new credit line without looking into your credit history. Therefore, freezing prevents anyone to open a new account in your name. Freezing doesnâ€™t tamper any of your existing accounts nor does it have any effect on your credit score.
Itâ€™s important to note that a credit freeze doesnâ€™t block all access to your credit report. You can still have access to it alongside the lenders whom you are working with.
Having said that, a credit freeze is not the nirvana for your finances. As a matter of fact, itâ€™s just a shield which will counter impersonation. A good credit score is essential to get a loan at relatively cheaper terms and favorable contract terms.
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A credit freeze is the most ideal approach to shield your own information from theft. To set up a credit freeze, contact all the three bureaus and demand a freeze for you. Youâ€™ll need to supply some PII, for example, your name, address, DOB, and SSN to verify your identity. The entire procedure just takes a couple of minutes for every agency.
After youâ€™ve put your freeze, each credit agency will send you a letter of affirmation that contains a PIN. Secure this number in a protected place. You may require it on the off chance that you ever need to break the credit freeze.
You can set up a credit freeze on call on with all the three credit bureaus (numbers have been provided below) or you can request a credit freeze online via their websites. You will be given the PIN number or password on your email or phone which will be crucial and serve as the authentication at the time of removing the credit freeze.
Equifax: Call 800-685-1111 or visit the site.
Experian: Call 888â€‘397â€‘3742 or visit the site.
TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or visit the site.
The technology is undoubtedly a boon. However, our digital footprints leave a trail which online predators and hundreds of marketers can use by running various metrics. With increasing competition in the digitalized world, what remains of privacy is often a subject of debate. Like many connoisseurs suggest that data is the new oil and menacing ways of targeting you could be deployed by marketers and data voyeurs.
Itâ€™s a never-ending tussle between hackers or data voyeurs vs. Data security brats. No side can remain dominant for too long.