When it comes to credit reports, most people don’t give them a second thought – until something goes wrong. If you’re an expat in the US, though, credit report freezes are a must.
A credit report is a record of your credit history that includes information about your credit accounts, payment history, and credit utilization. For expat in the US, protecting your credit report is even more important because it is likely that your credit history is limited, given that you were not born in the country.
How many people in the US fall victim to identity theft per year?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that there were more than 1.4 million reports of identity theft in 2021, but this number only includes incidents that were reported to the FTC.
The below graph show the trend of different identity theft over from 2018 until now.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, but it’s especially prevalent among expats in the US. This is because many expats don’t have a credit history in the US, making them an easy target for criminals.
A credit freeze is a way to protect your credit report from being accessed by anyone – including you. This means that no one will be able to open new credit accounts or loans in your name. And if someone tries to access your credit report, they’ll be denied.
How to freeze your credit report
While this may sound like a hassle, it’s actually a very simple process. And it’s well worth the trouble if it means protecting your credit report – and your identity.
Here’s how to freeze your credit report:
1. Go to the website of each credit bureau – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
2. Enter your personal information, including your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
3. Follow the instructions on each website to freeze your credit report.
4. To make future interactions with each credit bureau simpler, it is recommended that you create a free account with each one.
There is no charge to freeze your credit report, so you don’t need to sign up for any paid services from each credit bureau.
Some credit bureaus may require you to provide additional information, such as a copy of your driver’s license or passport. But once you’ve frozen your credit report, you can rest assured knowing that your credit history is safe and sound.
What if I need to apply for credit?
If you need to apply for credit (like a personal loan or credit card application), you can “thaw” your credit report temporarily. This will allow creditors to access your credit report, but only for a specific period of time.
To thaw your credit report, you can log into each credit bureau online and then proceed to follow the instructions. Or, you can call each credit bureau and provide them with your personal information and the specific time frame during which you’d like your credit report to be accessible.
It’s important to note that you can only thaw your credit report for a specific period of time. Once that time frame has expired, your credit report will be frozen again.
The benefits of freezing your credit report are numerous
1) It helps protect your identity.
2) It prevents credit fraud and identity theft.
3) It keeps unwanted credit card offers from cluttering up your mailbox.
4) It makes it more difficult for criminals to open new accounts in your name.
5) And it gives you peace of mind knowing that your credit report is safe and sound.
For expats in the US, credit report freezes are a must. This is because they help to protect your credit history and prevent identity theft. Freezing your credit report is a simple process, and it’s well worth the trouble if it means keeping your credit report – and your identity – safe.
Last but not least, I recently created a group on Facebook called Asian Expats in the US so that we can share/discuss more tips directly. Feel free to join.