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Consumer Watch: Why a credit freeze won't always protect you

(KOKH/FILE)

The data breach numbers are mind-boggling, and they keep happening. In the first half of 2018-- there we 600 of them, and there is no way of knowing when it will slow down. It's risky having your personal information out there, so it is important to take steps in protecting your finances and identity. A credit freeze can help reduce the risk of identity theft, but credit monitoring sites say it is not a fail-safe, and can create other problems.

An important change in credit freezes-- the process in now free. Personal finance site Nerdwallet says it is the best way to keep fraudsters from getting to your financial information or stealing your identity. It adds that there are some things to consider. For example, a credit freeze doesn’t just keep bad guys out-- it keeps everyone out. That means there is a level on inconvenience to you because you won't be able to open new lines of credit.

You could still be the victim of other kinds of fraud even with a credit freeze. This is especially true if your social security number or web accounts have been compromised. Experian, the credit reporting bureau, also says that if a data breach causes an active credit card number to fall into the wrong hands, a credit freeze won't protect your account.

These data breach reports you see should really be a reminder that you should check your credit report regularly, and report problems. There are several apps that allow you to check your credit score and accounts for free. You can also get a free copy of your credit report every year from all three credit bureaus.

A credit freeze can give you some peace of mind, but it's still a good idea check your credit report at least once a year. We've got your back with how to request a credit freeze on our website, below you will find phone numbers to call if you’d like to request a credit freeze. Each bureau will ask you several questions to confirm your identity:

Equifax: 800-685-1111

Experian: 8883973742

Transunion: 888-909-8872

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