Because your life is temporarily in disarray, unscrupulous individuals may try to take advantage of the fact that you are a bit distracted, and they will try to steal your identity for their own personal gain. To help prevent that from occurring, we recommend that you place a Hurricane Harvey Survivor notice on your credit report at each of the three major credit bureaus, then freeze your credit report.
Credit reports: The official free site to obtain a copy of your credit report from each of the 3 major credit bureaus is . Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, once every 12 months. Look for accounts you don’t recognize and incorrect information (employers, addresses, etc.). There are many similarly named credit report services, but is the only one that is truly free.
Financial and account information: Check bills and account information immediately. Track mailed statements, new credit cards and printed check orders. Shield ATM pad when entering your password or PIN. Beware of shoulder surfers and eavesdroppers when talking on your cell phone. Shred all documents with your Social Security number before discarding. Notify the Social Security Administration and credit bureaus of the death of a loved one. If you believe that your driver’s license has been compromised, contact the fraud department of your state’s DMV to learn your options.
Cell phone/wireless device protection: If your phone is lost or stolen, a strong password will prevent anyone from using it. You should place passwords on your credit card, financial and phone service accounts.
Specialty consumer reports: Consumer reports include not only credit reports but also reports about you made to employers, insurance companies, banks and landlords. Under FCRA rules, you are entitled to a free report every 12 months from all nationwide specialty agencies (those that compile reports for targeted uses).
Whether you rent or own your home, you should check your rental history yearly. ID thieves can gain access to your personal information for the sole purpose of using it to rent an apartment or house. Numerous companies prepare reports for landlords concerning individuals who have applied to rent housing. Here are a few:
--CoreLogic Rental Properties: May include criminal and/or landlord-tenant records as well as rental performance history. Call 888-333-2413.
--Tenant Data: Provides information not only on rental payment history, but also on personal suitability as a potential resident. Call 1-800-228-1837, or download the form at . Mail it with a copy of your Social Security card and a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license or passport, to: Personal Report Request, Tenant Data Services, P.O. Box 5404, Lincoln, NE 68505-0404.
--RentBureau: Receives rental payment data from its national network of multifamily property management companies. This data is accessed by resident screening companies for use during the rental application process. Order your Rental History Report by using the form available at (right-hand column), or call 1-877-704-4519.
If you’re looking to rent and likely to be subject to a tenant screening, you could ask the landlord/rental agency for the name and contact info for the screening company.
Credit freeze: A credit freeze will prevent ID thieves from opening up new accounts using your personal information because credit issuers will not be able to access your credit file. In most states, the credit freeze is available at no cost to ID theft victims.
If you place a credit freeze, you will continue to have access to your free annual credit report and you’ll also be able to buy your credit report and credit score. Companies that you already do business with–for example, your mortgage, credit card or cell phone companies–will still have access to your credit report as would collection agencies working for one of those companies. Companies will also still be able to offer you prescreened credit (unsolicited credit offers you receive in the mail). And, according to the FTC, in some states potential employers, insurance companies, landlords, and other non-creditors can still get access to your credit report with a credit freeze in place.
If you're married, both you and your spouse must freeze your separate credit files to fully protect your household.
After processing your request, each agency will mail you a confirmation letter and a PIN or password that you will use whenever you temporarily lift the freeze, and if you permanently remove it. In many states, you can choose to lift the freeze for a specific period of time or for a particular creditor or other credit report user. If you temporarily lift the freeze for a particular third party, you will provide a unique access code (TransUnion and Equifax) or your PIN (Experian) to that person or business so that they can access your credit report.
Security freeze basics
A security freeze is a step you take to prevent credit, loans and services from being opened in your name without your permission. You will need to request a freeze with each of the three credit reporting companies. There is no fee for this service. It is important to know that if you place a security freeze on your credit report, businesses will not be able to obtain a copy of your report in connection with any new applications for credit. Before you apply for new credit, you will need to temporarily lift the security freeze following the procedures from the credit reporting company where you placed the freeze.
How do I set up a security freeze?
The process to place a security freeze requires that you directly contact each of the credit reporting companies. You can do so online or through the mail.
Types of information you should be prepared with:
- Your full name, including middle initial and suffix, such as Jr., Sr. II, III
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- Current address
- All addresses where you have lived during the past two years
- Email address
- A copy of a government-issued identification card, such as a driver's license or state ID card, etc.
- FEMA Assistance Acceptance Notice
- A copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, etc.
- Equifax -
- Experian -
- TransUnion -
How do I remove the security freeze?
When you request your security freeze, you will be given a personal identification number or password. To remove the security freeze, temporarily or permanently, contact the credit reporting company where you placed the freeze and provide that personal identification number or password. You can request to remove the freeze for a period of time or to permanently remove the freeze.