Good morning everyone. Yesterday, I read this article from Krebs on Security regarding the recent Starwood / Marriott data breach. In the article, there was a very powerful section that talked about 2 realities that all Americans need to come to grips with in regards to privacy, data security, and our powerlessness when it comes to securing our data. Here are the 2 realities from the article:
Reality #1: Bad guys already have access to personal data points that you may believe should be secret but which nevertheless aren’t, including your credit card information, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, address, previous addresses, phone number, and yes — even your credit file.
Reality #2: Any data point you share with a company will in all likelihood eventually be hacked, lost, leaked, stolen or sold — usually through no fault of your own. And if you’re an American, it means (at least for the time being) your recourse to do anything about that when it does happen is limited or nil.
I have believed reality #1 for a very long time. I could post all my personal information in this blog post and I wouldn’t be any less secure. Every piece of personal information about our lives has already been hacked, breached, or stolen by the bad guys. It almost becomes pointless to protect your personal information because tomorrow a new company will be breached. As for reality #2, I believe this to be true too, but I really hope it will not become 100% true. There has to be at least 1 company out there that cannot be hacked or breached, but I feel like that list gets smaller every day.
Since I am not planning on applying for any new credit cards (I was approved for the CNB City National Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card last month) and that I could unfreeze my credit reports in an hour if needed, I decided that it was finally time to freeze my credit reports at the 3 largest credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). A few years ago, I froze my credit reports at the smaller credit bureaus (IDA / ARS / SageStream) to improve my odds of being approved for credit cards from US Bank (it worked remarkably well at the time). Creating accounts and freezing all 3 big credit bureaus should be pretty easy, just head to these pages to get started:
After setting up an account and successfully answering security questions, you should see a screen that looks like this. When your credit reports are frozen, you can permanently remove the freeze or temporarily lift a freeze (if you are applying for new credit).
Creating accounts with Experian and TransUnion was very simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, when I was setting up my Equifax account, I did not pass the security questions, so I had to call Equifax to verify my identity. I was then given a PIN to remember in order to permanently remove or temporarily lift my credit freeze. I tried to sign into my Equifax account, but my username and password were not working. I tried doing a password reset, but never got the reset email. I called Equifax and explained the problem. They informed me there was a technical issue with the system and that my issue would be escalated. I’m not sure how long that will take, but I am not holding my breath. Hopefully the frozen credit reports do not cause me too much trouble.
If you have any questions about freezing or unfreezing a credit report, please leave a comment below. Lastly, please answer my 1 question poll question. Thank you and have a great day everyone!