I recently had a death in the family. One of the things we addressed while making arrangements was to freeze the credit of my stepfather. I would like to say, as a cyber attorney, that this was my idea, but I confess in mourning the loss of a wonderful man, I was thinking like a daughter and not like an attorney. The credit freeze was one of the services the funeral home offered.

Sadly, this is one of the more important things that a family should do after losing a loved one. Criminals comb obituaries to find homes they can break into, and identities they can steal. Freezing the credit of a lost loved one does not impede the settlement of the estate, and ensures that a grieving family does not have the added heartache of a stolen identity and stolen assets. Consideration should also be given to social media profiles and accounts, along with credit cards. While it is a unfortunate statement about our society that a family in mourning must address such matters, it is essential that this be undertaken quickly.

NJCCIC shared today that as of 9/21/18, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will be required to offer free credit freezes. NJCCIC further reported that “[a]s part of the new Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, parents will also be able to request free credit freezes for children under the age of 16 and free crediting monitoring services will be offered to all active duty military personnel.” More information is available on the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information blog.

Keep in mind, however, that if you are in the process of buying or financing a major purchase (car or home), or undertaking any other venture for which a third party would look to run a credit check, you will need to allow for those parties to access your credit report. Further, if you do freeze your credit, and then misplace your access credentials with the particular credit agency, it is not a small undertaking to prove you are really you to unfreeze your credit. And, of course, be careful how you select your access credentials, respond to security questions, and keep credentials in a secure location.