Someone just used my social security number to get an instant $200 payday loan yesterday. I know this because I got an alert from Experian, one of the three credit reporting agencies. I first called Experian to report the fraud and then called the company where the loan request originated.
It took a few hours to get this sorted out, and, annoyingly, I might have to spend more time filing a police report to prove to the company, Advance America, that I didn’t request this loan because they incredibly allowed instant online approval to someone who had my a social security number, but no other valid contact information! So they’re out $200 if they can’t pull back the funds.
Credit alerts are usually part of a paid plan with the reporting bureaus. However, you can place and remove a freeze on your credit at no charge.
Thankfully, gratefully, miraculously, I haven’t incurred any debt since April 25, 2009. I’ve been debt-free since 2016. And I don’t plan on incurring new debt … til the end of time. One day at a time. Hopefully.
But still, I was nervous about putting a freeze on my credit because my husband had a big issue in trying to open a bank account a few years ago when he froze his credit. While Experian told me that banks don’t normally check credit, it’s always possible.
Plus, it turns out that the credit bureaus don’t monitor bank accounts! So if someone does try to fraudulently open an account in your name, you won’t get an alert even if you have credit monitoring.
Fraudulent Bank Account Reporting
Bank account reporting is handled by a different agency, either Chex System or Early Warning. You can put a freeze on anyone opening new bank accounts in your name at Chex System.
You can get a copy of your banking history at Early Warning.
How to Freeze Your Credit – EASY!
It turns out that the three credit reporting agencies have now made it very easy to freeze and unfreeze your credit online!
So if you froze it and then wanted to open a new bank account, just call the bank and ask if they they will check your credit. If so, you can just temporarily unfreeze it for a couple of days right online!
It took me less than five minutes to set up the freeze with all three agencies.
For Experian, go to Experian.com/freeze
For Transunion, go to transunion.com/credit-freeze
For Equifax, go to equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/
Note: Here is what Experian says about freezing your credit:
“A credit freeze prevents lenders from checking your credit report in order to open a new account. A freeze may also prevent your information from being released for other inquiries, such as an employment or a rental application. Federal law allows certain transactions – such as those for insurance purposes – to continue even while a credit freeze is in place, and you should continue to monitor your credit. If you have a freeze on your credit report, you will need to remove it before you apply for credit.”