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Ask Dave

Creepy Identity Theft

Susan received a call from the police. They'd caught someone with her husband's Social Security card and a birth certificate. Should they freeze their credit reports?

QUESTION: Susan in Dayton received a call from the police saying that they’d caught someone stealing, and he had a Social Security card and a birth certificate on him that the officer had reason to believe was Susan’s husband’s. They haven’t had identity theft yet as far as they know. Should they freeze their credit reports? Dave says yes and recommends ID theft insurance.

ANSWER: There hasn’t been a problem. All we know is he’s got the original. We don’t know that the identity has been stolen other than he’s carrying those things around. We don’t know that he’s opened any accounts or anything, so I think they’d be fine. If you want to call Zander rather than just buy it online, you can do that and they’ll talk to you about it. But I’m pretty sure they’ll be happy to cover him, and I would buy that immediately. The day you’re approved for your refinance, go ahead and freeze your credit reports. A frozen credit report just means no one can check it. It does not guarantee protection, because not all the credit card companies check your credit before they issue the credit card. They could issue a card and never pull your credit. If they try to pull your credit and it’s frozen, it would stop it, but only about three out of 10 credit card applications are checked. They just approve them en masse.

You’ve got to get the protection in place and freeze your credit report. Put a fraud victim alert on the credit report. If someone does check your credit, they’re going to double check like you did with the police department before they issue the credit. Let the mortgage company know you’ve put the alert on there.