Protect yourself from identity theft
Commentary by Mark Wade
Every day on the radio and television, companies advertise how important it is for you to protect yourself from identity theft. The stories they tell are true, the problem is getting worse, and all of this is preventable.
What most Indiana residents don’t realize is that the State has passed legislation to allow Indiana residents to protect themselves. It’s called a “credit freeze.”
The biggest risk relating to identity theft is that someone obtains your personal information and uses that information to set up a credit card or other credit facility. This allows them then to borrow money and make purchases in your name. In an extreme case they may even buy a house or a car once this credit has been established.
Once you have identified that your identity has been stolen, it can take a great deal of your time and money to unwind this debt in your name or separate yourself from the obligation. By the time you identify what is happening to you, the thieves have already realized the benefit of this devious conduct and are gone.
So how does a credit freeze work? It’s really a simple process if you have access to the Internet.
First, visit the Indiana Attorney General’s Website at www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2411.htm.
Once on that Webpage you will see a listing of the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transamerica. Underneath the name and address of each agency is a link, “Place a Security Freeze Online with …”
Simply click on each link and follow the instructions for each agency to freeze your credit report. Make sure that you freeze all three agencies. Many states charge for each freeze. By Indiana law, there is no cost for this service.
After you have completed this process, you will receive a PIN number from each of the agencies in the mail. Don’t lose these PIN numbers. Keep them in a safe place. If you need to secure credit or borrow money in the future, you will want to un-freeze your credit reports. You will need your PIN numbers to do this.
This is a process that every Indiana resident should be aware of. Taking advantage of what our State government has created, with no cost to any resident, makes good financial sense. Especially considering the times we now live in.
Mark R. Wade is vice president of Bankers’ Bank of Carmel, located at 716 Adams St., Suite B. He can be contacted at MWade@bankersbankusa.com.