Another scare with Equifax, has many wondering what can be done to protect identities and personal information. The answer, not much.
“There’s really no sure fire way to protect from a hacker,” says Brandon Joiner of Ribbit Business Solutions. “You can slow them down, and that’s what most companies try to do. Put up as much of a defense to slow them down. Really, preventing against a hacker is almost impossible today.”
The Better Business Bureau agrees. The BBB director for Kansas, Denise Groene, says it’s not even your fault.
“Sometimes you can do things on your own to prevent identity theft, but sometimes it’s out of your hands,” Groene says. “You really have to do more of the back-stepping.”
Expensive credit monitoring services don’t protect your identity, as much as they monitor, and alert you to any suspicious activity.
If you go that route, Joiner says to look for what the company can do for you if your identity is compromised.
“One of the nice features of the more legitimate ones is they offer up to $1 million, or half a million dollars, in legal fees and reimbursement,” Joiner explains. “They’ll actually hire attorneys to help you solve any issues from misuse of your credit.”
One of the best ways to actually protect yourself, is a credit freeze.
“I think the credit freeze is probably the best thing you can do,” Joiner says. “A credit freeze puts an extra layer or two of security for someone just walking into a car dealership, or opening a credit card up.”
Joiner says the freeze is only a minor inconvenience for most.
“Most people aren’t buying cars on a weekly, or monthly basis,” Joiner says. “You’re not opening new credit cards. You’re not buying a house.”
“If you are not in a position, where you think you are going to open up any lines of credit soon, meaning you are not looking for a home or a car right now, looking to open up a new credit card. It would be advantageous of you to go ahead and freeze your credit,” Groene explains.
She says to pay attention, and just unfreeze the credit if you need to.
“A lot of time when you buy insurance, or switch insurance companies, that new company wants to take a look at your credit bureau reports,” Groene says. “If it’s frozen, you may need to do a temporary unfreeze, so they can see that activity. As well as if you are looking for a job."
You need to freeze your credit with all three major credit services. In Kansas, that could cost up to $15 to freeze, and another $15 to unfreeze.
You can find numbers to call those services here
And addresses: here