Quebec has proposed a new bill that would let consumers freeze their credit files.
Credit freezing isn’t actually offered to Canadians as of yet, and the introduction of this service follows some pretty large data breaches in the Canadian credit community, including the Capital One data hack that impacted 6 million Canadians in late July.
On top of that, Quebecers also had a privacy scare this month when Revenue Quebec said the data of approximately 23,000 employees and contractors was transferred outside of the organization.
This definitely seems like a reason to add an extra layer of protection with a credit freezing service, and this might be something other provinces will be looking into as well.
In America, credit freezing is a free service offered by TransUnion and Equifax by law, but Canada only offers credit monitoring. According to a CBC Marketplace investigation, credit monitoring actually does little to protect consumers since they’re not immediately given the heads up about suspicious activity.
In a world where it’s not if your privacy is going to be breached, but when – is this the right way to go?
What is credit freezing?
A credit freeze would give Canadians greater control of their credit by letting them lock their file.
Even the account holder wouldn’t be able to access any credit until they unlock the freeze.
As a result, seemingly harmless potential lenders and fraudulent scammers wouldn’t have the authority to open any new accounts or even inquire about the account holder’s credit.
Is freezing your credit worth the hassle?
While freezing your credit protects you from the data hackers of the world, it also blocks you from applying for credit cards (which could have limited time sign up bonuses) and even taking out a car loan.
You can always lift the freeze, but you have to re-freeze right after. Just applying for the freeze, at least in the U.S, involves contacting each of the 3 reporting agencies separately.
There’s been a lot of outrage in regard to Equifax’s customer service system in the past, with the website crashing and phone lines being jammed…so that might stand in the way of you and your freeze.
While it might seem obvious, the credit freeze doesn’t actually protect any data that’s already been compromised by breaches.
It prevents new credit from being opened – but it’s not going to stand in the way of the next identity thief waiting to take your already hacked credit card number out for a ride.
You’re also given a “secret” PIN when you freeze your credit that gives you control of freezing and unfreezing, but even that can be a problem…
What if the hackers decide to hack the PINs that were supposed to protect you?
At this point, is any of our information safe?
Our final verdict
Credit freezing, while it may be a bit of a hurdle, is probably one of the best ways to prevent your information from being compromised further.
In a world where information is power, and there seems to be a news story every week of a hacker stealing more and more of it, credit freezing might be your safest option. Seniors that don’t use their credit very often could benefit immensely, as inactive accounts are often the most vulnerable.
You already should be scrutinizing your credit statements and making sure nothing seems amiss, so credit freezing is just another way to protect you and your information.
Being as overly cautious as possible might seem like a hassle, but protecting you, and your family, will always be worth it.
We want to hear from you
What are your thoughts on the recent data breaches?
Does credit freezing interest you, or is it not worth it?
Let us know in the comments below.