When over 80 million current and past Anthem customers’ data was stolen, I hit the panic button. This is a big deal because the thieves have all the info they need to digitally recreate your life. The data breached included social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, and other identifying pieces of data. Financial and health information weren’t breached, but honestly who cares.
Anthem in their official statement asked customers to standby until they know more. Don’t do that. That’s really bad advice. Just freeze your credit, and be done with it until the dust settles.
With the data stolen, credit can be sought in your name.
Freezing your credit will not hurt you in anyway. Straight from the FTC website, freezing credit won’t…
keep you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance. But if you’re doing any of these, you’ll need to lift the freeze temporarily, either for a specific time or for a specific party, say, a potential landlord or employer. The cost and lead times to lift a freeze vary, so it’s best to check with the credit reporting company in advance.
You can unfreeze your credit anytime you want. Many people freeze their credit as the ultimate security measure against fraud. And if you’re like me and don’t use your credit a lot, then just freeze it. You will be given a PIN when freezing your credit, which you can then use to unfreeze your credit.
Credit fraud protection services aren’t enough, in this instance. Freezing your credit is cheaper, smarter, and a better solution at the root level. Some states allow parents to freeze their children’s credit. But most states require a person to have credit, before it is frozen. You can certainly try to freeze your kids’ credit, and the credit bureaus will let you know if it’s possible in the state in which you live.
Update (1:49pm est 2/6/15) *****The Anthem data breach may have just gotten a lot worse.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.