Craig Johnson, Clark.com
If you’ve taken steps to protect yourself from identity fraud in the wake of the Equifax data breach, you may find yourself wondering what other steps you can take.
Money expert Clark Howard has been a big proponent of credit freezes, even before the massive hack suffered by Equifax. What makes a credit freeze so effective is that it prevents new lines of credit from being opened up without you being aware of it.
Beyond freezing your credit: How to protect your financial life
Assuming you’ve set up free fraud monitoring services, what else can you do — beyond a credit freeze — to protect yourself?
What a lot of people may not realize is that identity theft is not limited to your bank account or credit cards. Criminals can open new cable or mobile phone accounts by pretending to be you. All they have to do is access those accounts that hold your personal information.
One entity that controls these accounts is the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE), which is owned by Equifax.
The NCTUE is basically a credit-reporting agency for the telecom companies. If you’re a telecom customer or have a utility bill in your name, then the NCTUE has a “disclosure report” on you. A disclosure report is a record of all your pay TV and utility accounts. This personal information in the report includes your account history as well as unpaid and closed accounts and customer service applications.
After you’ve frozen your credit, here’s how to stop criminals from getting their hands on your other personal information:
How to freeze your telecom, pay TV and utility disclosure report
To request a credit freeze please click here or call us at 1-866-349-5355. You can mail your request to:
NCTUE Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105561
Atlanta, GA 30348
There are some other credit-reporting agencies that have their hands on your personal information. While you can’t submit a credit freeze with all of these organizations, you are entitled to a free copy of your file each year. The more information you have about what these companies know about you, the more empowered you are.
- Innovis: Innovis works with banks and other financial institutions to reduce fraud provides information to help companies detect and prevent fraud. You can submit for a Credit Report Request here as . You can also request a credit freeze online here or request via phone at 1-800-540-2505. You can also submit by mail by completing the Security Freeze Request by Mail form.
- Telecheck: This First Data Corp. subsidiary works with businesses, including banks and stores, to reduce check-related losses and fraud. Go to Telecheck.com to request your Telecheck File Report here.
- EWS: Early Warning System is a specialty credit-reporting agency that compile checking and savings account information from financial institutions. You can request your Consumer Report here.
- ChexSystems: This agency also acts as a check verification service for financial institutions. Its dominion includes deposit information on consumers as well as checking account applications and histories. To get your free report, go to www.chexsystems.com and click Free FACTA Report. To request a credit freeze on your account, go to Place a Security Freeze.