Should you freeze your credit? [Certain Times]

Did you know today is National Grouch Day? When I think of the top ten things that might make a physician grouchy, Identity Theft must be near the top of the list.

All the paperwork and the hassle it takes to reclaim the essence of who you are—your identity—is a total waste of a physician’s precious time.

And after hearing that one of my clients has had his identity stolen FOUR TIMES in a single year, I started thinking about ways to head off the problem.

The ultimate solution—nay, the Nuclear Option—is to lock down or “freeze” your credit. After all, what the identity thieves are really after is cash, and they use your ID to quietly open credit accounts in your name… then suck them dry.

When you freeze your credit, you seal your credit record from the prying eyes of anyone who would be interested in lending you money (legitimately or illegitimately) so that no credit can be opened in your name without your knowledge. And if you actually want someone to grant you credit, you must supply the credit reporting agency with a PIN to lift or “thaw” that security freeze.

To see exactly what is involved, I recently froze my own credit.

It took me about 30 minutes and cost me $30 to freeze my credit with all three agencies. The hardest part of the whole thing was finding the exact URLs for the webpages that allowed me to do this, so I’m giving them to you today in hopes that it will save you time:

So the credit freeze is quick, cheap, and easy, but should you do it?

I say the answer is “yes” unless you (a) plan to apply for a loan in the next 30 days or (b) you think you’re likely to lose the 10-digit PIN that can lift the freeze.

Physicians who regularly apply for credit, like those who use credit lines in the practices they own, should also think twice before proceeding.

Everybody else has LOTS to gain from this, like avoiding all the headaches that go with sorting out the carnage for cratered credit.

Don’t worry about your existing loans and lines of credit. They won’t be impacted at all. And freezing your credit does nothing to reduce your credit score.

Ultimately, every physician must weigh the odds of being victimized against the administrivia of instituting the freeze. But to me, the investment of time seems like a no-brainer, and the peace of mind is priceless.