How To Lock Your Credit
Locking your credit file is a procedure that can help protect against identity theft and credit fraud by limiting access to your Experian credit file. A credit lock, also known as a security lock, has the same result as a security freeze, sometimes known as a credit freeze, but it also comes with extra alerts when you sign up for Experian .
Locking your Experian credit file limits lenders and others from accessing your Experian credit file or using it to get a credit score. Checking your credit is typically one of the first steps in processing a loan or credit application, so limiting access to your Experian credit file can stop fraudsters and thieves from opening new accounts or borrowing money in your namea common consequence of identity theft.
Note that you must limit access to your credit files at all three national credit bureaus . Locking your credit file at one bureau does not automatically lock it at the others.
How Can I Detect A Phishing Email Pretending To Be Social Security
- Most emails from Social Security will come from a .gov” email address. If an email address does not end in .gov, use caution before opening attachments or clicking on pictures or links in the email. Currently, Social Security sends emails from ,, , , and echosign.com.
- In a few instances, we use marketing firms to raise awareness of Social Securitys online services, and this includes creating a my Social Security account. We allow these firms to send email directly to individuals. Any links you find within these emails should always point to a .gov/ web address.
- Links, logos, or pictures in the body of an official Social Security email will always direct you to an official Social Security website. Rather than relying on the way a link looks, please follow these steps to confirm a links authenticity:
- To verify the web address of a link or picture, hover over it with your mouse until a text box appears with the web address. This is the actual address you will be directed to and it should always include .gov/. A forward slash should always follow the .gov domain.
- Example – https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
- Links to the official Social Security website will always begin with or .
- Below are examples of fraudulent websites pretending to direct you to Social Security. Notice the location of the forward slash.
Learn More About Credit Freezes And Fraud Alerts
- A fraud alert flags your credit report and encourages lenders to verify your identity before issuing new lines of credit in your name.
- A credit freeze blocks your credit file so that lenders canât even access your credit report. Credit freezes also block new credit applications until you âthawâ the freeze with each of the three major credit bureaus.
Understanding the differences between a can help you take swift action if you think youâre a victim of identity theft.
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Contact Companies Where Your Social Security Number Has Been Used Fraudulently
In the case that your information was used to create fraudulent accounts, youll want to contact each company involved. For example, if your SSN was used to create bank accounts or credit accounts in your name, reach out to each company and explain that youre a victim of identity theft. They can then close your accounts so the identity thief cant use the accounts any longer.
If someone used your information to create fraudulent identification records, youll need to contact all agencies involved, possibly including the IRS, Social Security Administration and your secretary of states office, which handles cases of fraudulent identification.
Identity Theft: What It Is How To Prevent It Warning Signs And Tips
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Identity theft is when someone uses your personal data your name, Social Security number, birthdate, etc. to impersonate you, typically using that information to steal from you.
It’s a growing problem in the U.S., and pandemic relief made it worse as identity thieves targeted relief checks and unemployment benefits. Theft of benefits in 2020 was up a whopping 2,920% over 2019. Overall, the Federal Trade Commission received 1.4 million complaints of identity theft from consumers in 2020, up 113% from the year before.
Heres what you need to know to reduce chances youll be a target, spot warning signs and take quick action to minimize damage.
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Can I Get A New Social Security Number
Yes, you can but it’s a fairly involved process and requires you to apply in person at a Social Security office and provide a valid reason for changing your Social Security number. Being a victim of identity theft is considered a valid reason, but only if you’re having persistent and ongoing problems as a result of the theft and you will have to provide documentation to support your claim. You’ll also be asked to provide documents proving your age and citizenship status .
If you get a new number, the old number isn’t deleted. The new number is connected to the old number and as a result this will often turn up on background checks, which may prompt additional questions.
If you’re issued a new number, you’ll want to be sure and update your employer to make sure they are correctly reporting your earnings under the new SSN.
Freeze Your Childs Credit Report
If your child is under 16, you can request a free credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, to make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your child’s name. The freeze stays in place until you tell the credit bureaus to remove it.
To activate a credit freeze, contact each of the three credit bureaus. Find their contact information at IdentityTheft.gov.
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Identity Theft: What To Do If Someone Has Already Filed Taxes Using Your Social Security Number
If someone uses your information to file a fraudulent tax return, the person is looking to get your tax refund. You’ll want to work with the IRS as soon as you discover the identity theft to ensure that your actual return is processed as quickly as possible.
If someone has stolen your Social Security Number and filed a fraudulent tax return to receive your refund, your tax filing will be rejected if you try to e-file. If you mail in your tax return you will likely receive a written notice from the IRS.
Use IRS Form 14039 to alert the IRS that someone has filed a return using your identification.
The IRS may send you a “Letter 5071C” asking that you verify your identity. You can respond via telephone or through the IRS’ online Identity Verification Service.
Learn About Child Identity Theft
Typically, minors wont have a credit file. They might if youve added your child as an authorized user on one of your credit accounts. However, if they have a credit report but you never added them as an authorized user, it may be a sign of fraud.
Read our blog to learn more about child identity theft. If you suspect your childs identity has been compromised, use our secure Child Identity Theft Inquiry Form to find out of a credit file exists in their name.
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Self Lock Helps Protect You From Employment
Self Lock is the unique feature that lets you protect your identity in E-Verify and Self Check by placing a “lock” in E-Verify on your Social Security number . This helps prevent anyone else from using your SSN for an E-Verify case. If an employer enters your locked SSN in E-Verify to confirm employment authorization, it will result in an E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmation . With Self Lock, you are always in control – you can unlock your SSN any time a new employer needs to confirm your employment authorization in E-Verify. Your Self Lock remains active as long as your account remains valid, and you have not unlocked your SSN. The Self Lock feature is only available to myE-Verify account holders.
How To Use Self Lock
To access Self Lock, you must be logged in to your myE-Verify account.
To lock your SSN, you must select and answer three challenge questions. Select questions you can easily answer, because you will need to answer them again to verify your identity if you receive an E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmation due to Self Lock.
If you are about to start a new job with anE-Verifyemployer, you should log into your account and unlock your SSN.
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Who Can Access My Frozen Credit Report
A credit freeze limits most credit inquiries, but certain parties can still access a frozen credit report under specific circumstance. Here are a list of entities that may access your credit report after you do a credit freeze:
- You, when you view your own credit report.
- Lenders and card issuers with whom you have accounts, who use credit checks in their account management processes.
- Landlords and rental agencies, screening you as a potential tenant.
- Phone carriers and utility companies, to set the amount of security deposit required on equipment.
- Debt collection agencies, when attempting to obtain a payment.
- Child support agencies, for purposes of determining child support.
- Auto insurance companies, which may include credit scores in their rate-underwriting process.
- Potential employers you’ve authorized, conducting background checks.
- Government agents, executing court orders or warrants.
Alternatives To The Online Tool
If you want an IP PIN but cant successfully validate your identity through the Get an IP PIN tool, there are alternatives. Please note using an alternative method to the online tool takes longer for an IP PIN to be assigned to you.
Requesting in-person authentication for an IP PIN
If youre unable to verify your identity online or with the Form 15227 process or you are ineligible to file Form 15227, you may make an appointment for an in-person meeting at a local Taxpayer Assistance Center. Please bring one current government-issued picture identification document and another identification document to prove your identity. Once we verify your identity, you will receive your IP PIN via the U.S. Postal Service usually within three weeks. You will then receive your IP PIN annually through the mail.
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How Does A Credit Freeze Compare With A Fraud Alert
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft or suspect your personal information is otherwise being abused by criminals, you can limit most access to your credit reports by requesting security freezes at all three national credit bureaus. Doing so can limit unauthorized credit checks, but can also limit processing of your own legitimate credit applications.
While a to your credit report until you lift it, fraud alerts are temporary. An initial fraud alert remains for one year, while an extended alert remains for seven. And while freezes must be removed before most access is granted, fraud alerts give lenders access to your credit reports and ask that they verify your identity before processing credit applications made under your name.
Compared with the process of lifting and reapplying a credit freeze at all three credit bureaus anytime you need to allow access to your report and scores, a fraud alert offers a more convenient and potentially safer alternative. A fraud alert stays in place while you continue to use your credit as normal, and won’t need to be lifted like a credit freeze would.
Unlike a credit freeze, when you request a fraud alert at any one of the three credit bureaus , alerts are automatically placed at all three bureaus. Removing fraud alerts before they expire will require you to contact each bureau separately.
Can I Freeze My Child’s Report
If your minor children have credit files, it can be a good precaution to freeze those files. Underage children ordinarily have credit files only if you’ve made them an authorized user on a credit card or as a result of identity theft.
To freeze a credit report for someone under 16, you’ll need to prove you have authority to make that request. Proof of this authority can include:
- A lawfully executed and valid power of attorney
- A document issued by a federal, state or local government agency in the United States attesting to your parental relation to the minor
- A birth certificate
You can thaw the files when the children come of age and are ready to begin seeking credit on their own.
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Switch To A Secure Password Manager
Strong passwords will make it more difficult for hackers to access your information. Think of passwords as the gatekeepers to your online private data.
Elements of a strong password include:
- Is at least eight characters long
- Comprises three or four unrelated words
- Contains numbers and special characters
- Is not used across multiple accounts
But managing all your passwords can be tedious. About 68% of Americans use the same password across accounts. The solution? Use a password manager app, which creates and stores all your unique passwords. Auraâs password manager is a Google Chrome extension that lets you save, access, and sync your passwords across devices.
Placing A Security Freeze On Your Credit Report To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Each of the three major credit reporting agencies offers consumers the ability to place a security freeze, or deny access to, their credit reports. A security freeze means that your credit file cannot be shared with potential creditors. A security freeze can help prevent identity theft, because businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumers credit history. If your credit files are frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security number probably will not be able to obtain credit in your name. Placing a security freeze does not affect your credit score nor does it keep you from getting your free annual credit report.
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Your Social Security Number Is The Key
Originally, your Social Security number was a way for the government to track your earnings and pay you retirement benefits. But over the years, it has become much more than that. It is the key to a lot of your personal information. With your name and SSN, an identity thief could open new credit and bank accounts, rent an apartment, or even get a job.
How To Know If Someone Is Using Your Childs Personal Information
In addition to taking steps to safeguard your childs personal information, keep an eye out for warning signs that someone is using your childs personal information. Here are a few:
- Youre denied government benefits because someone is already using your childs Social Security number to get those benefits.
- Someone calls you and says your child has an overdue bill, but its not an account you opened for the child.
- You get a letter from the IRS that says your child didnt pay income taxes. This could happen if someone used your childs Social Security number on tax forms for a new job.
- Youre denied a student loan because your child has bad credit. This could happen if someone used your childs Social Security number to get a credit card, open a cell phone account, or set up a utility service and has not paid the bills on time or at all.
Signs of Child Identity Theft
- Turned down for government benefits
- Letter from the IRS about taxes your child owes
- Childs student loan application is denied
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Introduction: Why You Should Lock Your Social Security Number
Your social security number is one of the most important pieces of your personal information. Its used to track your employment history, tax information, and retirement benefits. Its also a key piece of identification that can be used to open new lines of credit or obtain other financial services.
Unfortunately, your social security number can also be used to commit identity theft. If your social security number falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to open new accounts in your name and rack up debt. In some cases, identity thieves have even been able to use stolen social security numbers to file for tax refunds in their victims name.
The best way to protect your social security number from identity theft is to lock it. This means that you restrict access to your social security number so that only authorized individuals can view it. In most cases, youll need to provide a fingerprint or other form of identification before youll be able to unlock your social security number.
There are a few different ways that you can lock your social security number. The most common option is to enroll in a credit monitoring service, which will allow you to place a lock on your credit report. This will prevent anyone from viewing your social security number without your permission.