Security Matters: Freezes, Fraud Alerts and More

Now more than ever, it’s important to stay vigilant when it comes to keeping your finances secure. When Equifax recently had a data breach, 143 million people discovered that their personal information including birthdates, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses and addresses had been compromised, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft. After the breach, experts recommended consumers combat this exposure by stepping up their security measures. Here are some options to consider if you’re worried about identity theft.

Credit Freeze

The main goal of a credit or security freeze is to keep fraudsters from gaining access to your credit report information and opening new accounts in your name. To freeze or unfreeze your credit report at all three bureaus is $10 apiece or $30 total if you live in California; free if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Costs vary in other states. If you’re age 65 or older, a credit freeze is free, and a temporary lift is $5.1

Once you freeze your credit, you can go on using your open accounts as usual. But it’s important to know that  if you apply for a job that requires a background check or want to apply for new lines of credit or a loan, you’ll need to lift the freeze — either for a set period or for specific inquiries. The credit bureaus will provide a PIN to unfreeze it online; or you can make a request by mail. Typically, credit freezes last for seven years and are lifted automatically, so you’ll have to set a reminder to keep it going. You can also order free annual credit reports with a freeze in place.

Credit Report Fraud Alerts

Placing fraud alerts on your credit reports is a free option that requires your creditors and any potential lenders to take additional steps to verify your identity. An initial fraud alert protects your credit report for at least 90 days. If you’re a victim of identity theft, you’ll want to place an extended fraud alert that protects you for seven years. Once you place an alert with one credit bureau, the alert is added to the other credit bureaus.

Credit Monitoring Services

Credit monitoring services track your credit activity and let you know if any changes have occurred on your credit report such as a new credit account or credit inquiry. It also monitors your credit score and provides information for why it may be higher or lower, which is very helpful if you are looking to improve your score or keep it tiptop. Fees for this service vary; many credit cards offer free credit monitoring services. For instance, SchoolsFirst FCU’s Inspire Mastercard® monitors your credit and provides a free TransUnion® credit score and customized reports from SavvyMoney. Our debit and credit cards also offer free identity theft monitoring and alerts, emergency wallet replacement, and identity theft resolution services with Mastercard ID Theft Protection2.

eAlerts for Your SchoolsFirst FCU Accounts

Our eAlerts can be activated for text-enabled mobile devices and via email to help you keep on top of your financial accounts.3 In addition to getting customizable notifications on things like available balances and payment due dates, you can also get these fraud alerts:

  • Suspicious Activity Alerts warn you when a suspicious Debit Card transaction is identified.
  • Declined Transaction Alerts tell you when your Debit Card has been blocked after a suspicious transaction is declined.

It’s easy to sign up for eAlerts.


  1. Source:
  2. To bring you this benefit, Mastercard has partnered with CSID®, an industry leader in identity theft protection and fraud detection. CSID is a registered trademark of CSIdentity Corporation. 3. Certain terms, conditions and exclusions apply. In order for coverage to apply, you must use your covered Mastercard card to secure transactions. Please refer to your Guide to Benefits for further details or call 1-800-MASTERCARD for assistance. Refer to the Travel Accident & Baggage Delay Insurance Coverage description or call 800.337.2632 for more information on this benefit. 3. Data charges may apply. Check with your mobile provider.

When you click on external links, you are linking to alternate websites not operated by SchoolsFirst FCU, and SchoolsFirst FCU is not responsible for the content of the alternate websites. The fact that there is a link from SchoolsFirst FCU’s email to an alternate website does not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or organization. SchoolsFirst FCU does not represent either you or the website operator if you enter into a transaction. Privacy and security policies may differ from those practiced by SchoolsFirst FCU, and you should review the alternate website’s policies.

Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.

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