Criminals use stolen ID’s to open new lines of credit. You can thwart their efforts to use your identity by simply freezing your credit. Many states have laws giving you this right, but even where states don’t provide legal mandates, the large credit bureaus provide a voluntary security freeze program.
To determine whether there are any costs associated with placing a security freeze on your credit, and for temporarily lifting that credit freeze when you do seek credit, see State Freeze Requirements and Fees. For example, In Washington state, those who have been victims of ID theft can freeze, and temporarily lift their credit for free. It costs just $10 for anyone else under the age of 65.
Plan ahead when you do want to apply for new credit, as it may take up to 3 days to process your request for a temporary lift of the security freeze. (A freeze limits the credit bureaus from disclosing your credit score to third parties except in those cases where you specifically contact a credit bureau like Equifax and request that they temporarily lift the security freeze.) It may take longer if you have lost the security freeze confirmation number which the credit bureau provided.
Click here to learn more about placing a Security Freeze through Equifax on your credit file.