Cybersecurity Awareness Month Tip: Free Credit Freeze

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Keep your information secure with tips from OIT.

Effective this year, individuals can now place a freeze on their credit at no cost. Your first question may be, “What is a credit freeze?” It’s easier than it sounds, and it is the best way to prevent malicious actors from using your personal information to open new accounts in your name.

When an individual freezes their credit, a credit bureau cannot provide any information about the individual to a lender until the individual elects to thaw the freeze.  Prior to federal legislation approved in September, individuals were required to pay a $10 fee each time the credit was frozen or thawed. Now, individuals can freeze and thaw their credit with no fee.

Individuals can freeze their credit with Equifax, TransUnion and Experian for free. OIT recommends placing a freeze at all three bureaus. Visit their websites directly to establish the freeze.

When a freeze is established with each bureau, the bureau will provide a pin or secure identification code to secure the account. Individuals can then provide that pin number to the bureau when ready to thaw the credit. An individual may need to thaw the credit when making a large purchase or requesting a loan. When making a purchase that requires a credit check, simply ask the lender which credit bureau they use, and you can thaw the freeze with that bureau only. Remember to re-freeze your credit after the purchase is made.

To learn more about credit freezes, please visit the Federal Trade Commission website.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. OIT will be posting cyber safety tips throughout the month. For more information about Cybersecurity Awareness Month, visit the National Cyber Security Alliance’s website https://staysafeonline.org.