‘Tis the season for hot cocoa, holiday parties, and Christmas shopping! It is also the season that we are more susceptible to fraud and identity theft. Monitoring your credit is key, and one additional thing you can do is to freeze your credit. What this means is that you are restricting access to your credit profile and no one can open any new accounts in your name regardless of having secured your legal name, date of birth, SSN and address. Between company data breaches and identity thieves being a part of today’s reality, freezing your credit is extremely important and is highly recommended. It is free and does not affect your credit score, and it also does not affect the way you use any of your current open credit accounts.

Here are the links of each of the three bureaus to freeze your credit. You will need to create an account and provide some verifying information. Keep your user ID, password and/or PIN handy.

If you are applying for a loan or looking to open up a new credit account, you will need to lift the freeze. I recently went through this process personally and it was very streamlined and intuitive. You can choose to temporarily lift the freeze for a set amount of time, or to permanently unfreeze it. I hope this helps; stay safe out there!