with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

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learning_head
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with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by learning_head » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:06 pm

I have freezes setup in all 5 agencies recently circulated (big 3, chexsystems, innovis).

I know signing up for fraud alert service will mean I will have to thaw them. That's not an issue - I don't mind.

Question (sorry if dumb): is there benefits to having fraud alert or other monitoring services given that all these are frozen to begin with? I am wondering about both, fraud alert services provided by the big 3 as well as services such as CreditKarma, Equifax's 1-year-free TrustedID Premier service, TransUnion's TrueIdentity, Credit Sesame, etc.

If thieves cannot open anything in my name anyway due to freezes, what beneficial alerts can I get?

I can see one downside for signing up: providing my private information to one more company that could be hacked.

[Update September 22, 2017]

Artsdoctor's reply here, helped me with this understanding...

While freeze prevents crooks from opening new accounts at NEW institutions, they might be able to do so at EXISTING ones (but see update below!). Thus,

(a) fraud alerts is the only thing that may help prevent such new account openings (since EXISTING institutions may see fraud alert now on the account, while accessing the credit reports)

(b) credit monitoring alerts help identifying such new accounts after-the-fact quicker than self-monitoring credit reports once a year

Is above understanding correct now?

Which leads me to another question ... what about OLD institutions? Do financial institutions that USED TO HAVE my accounts have access to my now-frozen credit reports (say if they retained enough information about me)?

[Update September 24, 2017]
A boglehead PMed me that in their (multi-year) experience, EXISTING institutions can only do soft pulls, while hard pulls still get denied (e.g. when increasing your limit or applying for new credit with them). In fact, a good technique to see if your freeze is working is to periodically try to up your credit limit by a little to make sure it gets denied.

I separately saw that some institutions (e.g. Bank of America) may approve you for new credit without hard pull if they had done a hard pull within prior 30 days.

Regarding OLD institutions, here is a phrasing I got from Innovis letter:
Innovis letter wrote:A security freeze does not apply to circumstances in which you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or its affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control, or similar activities.
Since it mentions "existing" account relationship and "existing" creditor (note: it also says "affiliates"), I assume freeze should prevent OLD institutions from opening new accounts.
Last edited by learning_head on Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:45 am, edited 9 times in total.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud alert services?

Post by DaftInvestor » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:35 pm

The only benefit I could think of is IF someone where able to unfreeze your credit by some means and then open up credit in your name you might find out.
Is this likely? I certainly hope not - hopefully they are looking at all the cases whereby someone might try and putting multiple tiers of blockade in place (Social-hack - call equifax - pretend they are you - and say PIN is lost and need to unfreeze - copy all identifying documents and send them in when asked, etc.; Computer-hack: someone hacked in to get the data - maybe someone else will figure out a way to hack in to unfreeze your report).

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DaftInvestor
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud alert services?

Post by DaftInvestor » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:37 pm

In another thread I gave this analogy (based upon my understanding).
Freeze: My livestock is in the barn and I've locked and alarmed all the doors. No one is getting out.
Fraud Alert: I left the barn doors open but I installed a security camera and hired someone to watch. If one escapes the camera monitor will call me and hopefully I'll capture the animal before it gets away.

I supposed placing a fraud alert with everything frozen might be installing the security cameras even though you believe no one can penetrate the locks and alarms. Personally - I don't know if fraud alerts even work when your credit reports are frozen.

Rupert
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud alert services?

Post by Rupert » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:41 pm

I don't think you can set fraud alerts when your credit files are frozen. There's absolutely no need for it in any event.

learning_head
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud alert services?

Post by learning_head » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:49 pm

Rupert wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:41 pm
I don't think you can set fraud alerts when your credit files are frozen. There's absolutely no need for it in any event.
From what I read, you can still sign up for fraud alerts as well as various monitoring services - you just have to temporarily thaw one (or all) freezes first.

Ndop
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by Ndop » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:56 pm

I was able to sign up for a fraud alert on top of a credit freeze.

As to the OP's original question: I think if you're willing to check your credit reports regularly (either annually at annualcreditreport.com, or upto 4 times per year using fraud alerts), then I don't think monitoring will be that helpful. But if you don't plan on checking, it's reassuring to know that if any changes are somehow made, the monitoring services will alert you.

Ndop
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by Ndop » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:57 pm

When I signed up for the fraud alert, a lifting/thawing of the freeze was not necessary.

Rupert
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud alert services?

Post by Rupert » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:01 pm

Okay, so fraud alerts are a lesser form of protection offered by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. They have to be renewed every 90 days unless your identity has been fraudulently used and you can prove that with a police report. If you're the victim of actual identity theft (meaning your identity has been fraudulently used), the fraud alert can be extended up to 7 years. There's absolutely no point in setting a fraud alert if your credit is frozen. All a fraud alert does is require the credit bureau to tell prospective creditors when they attempt to access your information that you may have been a victim of identity theft. Why in the world would you need that service if the credit bureaus are already telling the prospective creditor that your credit file is frozen and, hence, inaccessible? It offers absolutely zero additional protection.

Edited to note: Fraud alerts and monitoring services are not the same thing. I suppose there is some benefit in monitoring services that include insurance, i.e., that will reimburse you for the costs of cleaning up any fraudulent accounts set up using your identity, etc. But are those costs going to be high enough to justify what those monitoring services cost? I tend to doubt it, and I've actually had fraudulent accounts set up in my name. It was a pain to fix, but it didn't cost me a lot of money. Just a good bit of time and aggravation.
Last edited by Rupert on Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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flamesabers
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud alert services?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:01 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:35 pm
The only benefit I could think of is IF someone where able to unfreeze your credit by some means and then open up credit in your name you might find out.
Is this likely? I certainly hope not - hopefully they are looking at all the cases whereby someone might try and putting multiple tiers of blockade in place (Social-hack - call equifax - pretend they are you - and say PIN is lost and need to unfreeze - copy all identifying documents and send them in when asked, etc.; Computer-hack: someone hacked in to get the data - maybe someone else will figure out a way to hack in to unfreeze your report).
Do you get an alert when your credit is thawed (temporarily or permanent)? If not then someone could potentially thaw and wreak havoc with your credit whilst you think your credit is still frozen. :(

Rupert
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud alert services?

Post by Rupert » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:04 pm

flamesabers wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:01 pm
DaftInvestor wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:35 pm
The only benefit I could think of is IF someone where able to unfreeze your credit by some means and then open up credit in your name you might find out.
Is this likely? I certainly hope not - hopefully they are looking at all the cases whereby someone might try and putting multiple tiers of blockade in place (Social-hack - call equifax - pretend they are you - and say PIN is lost and need to unfreeze - copy all identifying documents and send them in when asked, etc.; Computer-hack: someone hacked in to get the data - maybe someone else will figure out a way to hack in to unfreeze your report).
Do you get an alert when your credit is thawed (temporarily or permanent)? If not then someone could potentially thaw and wreak havoc with your credit whilst you think your credit is still frozen. :(
Yes, you get an alert when your credit is thawed. They send mine to the email I gave them during the freeze process. Well, at least they used to. They're all so broken down as a result of the increased web traffic these days, who knows?

But I think we're kinda wandering into the realm of the fantastical at this point. My identity was stolen and then frozen years ago. It hasn't been a continuing problem since the initial mess. Freezing your credit is enough. No need to sign up for duplicate services.

learning_head
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by learning_head » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:12 pm

Thank you for the responses so far.

Sorry for not being completely clear but please note that I am wondering not only about fraud alerts provided by the 3 agencies (and mandated by law), but also about other monitoring services; e.g. CreditKarma, Equifax's 1-year-free TrustedID Premier service, TransUnion's TrueIdentity, Credit Sesame, etc.

I will update the OP to clarify

Ndop
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by Ndop » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:49 pm

I placed a fraud alert primarily to get my experian credit report. When I tried to get it through annualcreditreport.com, it failed. So I did the fraud alert to get the credit report, and it worked that way.

As for whether an alert is needed on top of a freeze, probably not. But consumer reports still recommends doing it for "maximum protection." https://www.consumerreports.org/consume ... st-option/

I think if you have all the freezes in place, and you signed up for at least one of the monitoring services, you're set. There are free monitoring services, so I don't see a need to pay for monitoring. Credit karma covers transunion and equifax. Freecreditscore covers experian. If you have a Discover credit card, they also have a free monitoring service that covers experian.

learning_head
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by learning_head » Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:39 pm

Thanks Ndop

Curious: after a freeze, would credit monitoring alerts from Credit Karma work, considering they should be prevented from accessing my credit reports, just like other organizations? In other words, how would they know of any changes to my credit history?

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Artsdoctor
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by Artsdoctor » Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:09 pm

^ Once you let an entity in, they'll be able to access the credit agencies going forward even if you have a freeze.

pinecone
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by pinecone » Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:33 pm

I just wanted to say how much I REALLY appreciate this forum and the generosity of all the members who pose questions and answer questions - I learn a lot from both!

I've had my credit with the big 3 frozen for a few years (thanks to the advice of this forum), and today I learned about chexsystems and innovis. Now I am frozen with them too. :sharebeer

learning_head
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by learning_head » Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:03 pm

Artsdoctor wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:09 pm
Once you let an entity in, they'll be able to access the credit agencies going forward even if you have a freeze.
Thanks Artsdoctor! That makes sense and in fact indirectly answers OP question too: while freeze prevents crooks from opening new accounts at NEW institutions, they can still do so at EXISTING ones. Thus,

(a) fraud alerts is the only thing that may help prevent such new account openings (since EXISTING institutions may see fraud alert now on the account, while accessing the credit reports)

(b) credit monitoring alerts help identifying such new accounts after-the-fact quicker than self-monitoring credit reports once a year

Is above understanding correct now?

Which leads me to another question ... what about OLD institutions? Do financial institutions that USED TO HAVE my accounts have access to my now-frozen credit reports (say if they retained enough information about me)?

Dilbydog
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by Dilbydog » Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:11 pm

After reading this article I'm not certain a freeze is as secure as we've been lead to believe. Especially if your information is already "out there".

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/09/exp ... reeze-pin/

learning_head
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by learning_head » Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:39 am

A boglehead PMed me that in their (multi-year) experience with security freeze, EXISTING institutions can only do soft pulls, while hard pulls still get denied (e.g. when increasing your limit or applying for new credit with them). In fact, a good technique to see if your freeze is working is to periodically try to up your credit limit by a little to make sure it gets denied.

I separately saw that some institutions (e.g. Bank of America) may approve you for new credit without hard pull if they had done a hard pull within prior 30 days.

Regarding OLD institutions, here is a phrasing I got from Innovis letter:
Innovis letter wrote:A security freeze does not apply to circumstances in which you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or its affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control, or similar activities.
Since it mentions "existing" account relationship and "existing" creditor (note: it also says "affiliates"), I assume freeze should prevent OLD institutions from opening new accounts.

learning_head
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Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:02 pm

Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by learning_head » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:31 am

Just wanted to bump this thread to see if anyone has more info or experience with this. Have you tried to open new lines of credit with your existing financial institutions after you placed your freeze? If so, did they require you to unfreeze first?

Rupert
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Re: with frozen credit, is there benefit to fraud monitoring services?

Post by Rupert » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:50 am

learning_head wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:31 am
Just wanted to bump this thread to see if anyone has more info or experience with this. Have you tried to open new lines of credit with your existing financial institutions after you placed your freeze? If so, did they require you to unfreeze first?
I have. And, yes, I had to unfreeze first. My experience has been that existing creditors can do soft pulls but not hard pulls on your credit files after a freeze. So if you want to, for example, switch the type of credit card you have with the same company (which credit card companies call a "product change") but not increase your credit limit, you don't have to unfreeze first. But if you want a brand new credit card (new line of credit) or increase your credit limit on the same card, you do have to unfreeze. Possibly this is just the practice at the particular credit card companies I use and others have different practices. But this is the experience I've had with two separate companies.

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