GREENSBORO, N.C. — You’ve heard us say it a lot since coronavirus started impacting our lives, “WFMY is about facts, not fear.” It's important because fear can cause you to make quick decisions that will have lasting financial impacts and, not in a good way.
“There are ruthless organizations that are exploiting people's fears,” explains Matthew Albence, Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs. ”Whether it's fears of health and well-being of the family, or the economic impact of the pandemic and ability to keep family fed, housed, and clothed.”
There's not enough time to go over ALL the ways the scammers can get you, but in less than a minute, we can show you a way to protect and keep tabs on your financial identity.
FREE WEEKLY CREDIT REPORTS
AnnualCreditReport is a government-based site to check your credit report
and now, you can check your credit report for free every week if you want to instead of just once a year.
Checking your credit report shows you what credit cards or loans are in your name. If you don't check, scammers could be opening up cards in your name and racking up bills.
This three-step process includes: filling out a form, picking the reports you want (and you should do all three, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union) and then requesting and reviewing, which will ask you specific financial questions. Be aware, you will be giving your social security number. You should print off your credit report and keep it in your files.
FREEZE YOUR CREDIT
You can ward off a scammer even having access to your financial identity by freezing your credit. This is also free. You should do it with all three credit bureaus.
WHY? Freezing your credit keeps anyone from opening up a credit card or loan or line of credit in your name. (You would only need to check your credit report once a year if you did this)
WHAT ABOUT USING YOUR CREDIT CARDS? Freezing your credit DOES NOT impact you using your credit cards. The only impact would be if you wanted to open up a new credit card or get a loan for a car or house. In that case, you would unfreeze your credit while you apply.
Why get a credit freeze? This allows you to block identity thieves from opening up credit in your name and steal your money. You should freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus. Use the links or do it by mail:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348//1-800-685-1111
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013//1-888-397-3742
TU Protected Consumer Freeze
P.O. Box 380 Woodlyn, PA 19094//1-800-916-8800
And yes, you need to do it with all three. A freeze on one doesn’t mean an ID thief can’t try it on the other two.