Using credit freezes and fraud alerts to curb identity theft damage
Jun 15, 2023, 10:15 PM | Updated: 11:00 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Last week, a Get Gephardt Investigation featured a Utah man who got hit by identity theft. An expert said that having a credit freeze could have saved the guy a lot of time and trouble. After that we heard from several folks wondering how do you freeze your credit.
“Things continue to trickle in,” said Andrew Davidson of his run-in with identity theft a couple years ago. Since then, he has had to spend way more time than he would like convincing various lenders that accounts opened his name was the work of crooks, not him. He says if he could go back in time, he would make sure his credit was frozen.
“There’s no reason to not have your credit frozen,” Davidson said. “It took me maybe an hour to create accounts of the three credit bureaus and get on there and freeze the credit.”
Fraud experts agree freezing your credit is a good idea because it limits access to your credit file and effectively stops a crook from opening a new credit card in your name. It may seem daunting, but it is not.
“It’s just one tool,” cautions mortgage lender Al Bingham of Momentum Loans, who calls a credit freeze a good safety net, but not fool-proof.
“It’s not 100% that someone will not get access to your credit report.”
He recommends extended fraud alerts. Those force a creditor to contact you before it can open a new account in your name.
“So, then we have to go through a process to identify that person before we can even proceed on a loan,” Bingham said.
The catch: extended fraud alerts are only available to people after they have been a victim of identity theft. But unlike a credit freeze where you need to freeze it with all three credit bureaus, a fraud alert only needs to be set with one of the credit bureaus who then must send the information to the other two.