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How do you Freeze Your Credit?
Freezing your credit is a process that will help protect you in case of identity theft or fraud. When you freeze your credit, no one can open accounts without your consent, see your current account balance, or apply for loans in your name without notifying the credit bureaus and creditors.
Whether you’re applying for a mortgage, an auto loan, a retail card, or just feeling anxious about the security of your personal information in this confusing digital age, freezing and unfreezing your credit with the major credit bureaus is an essential step in protecting you and your assets. In this post, we’ll go through everything you need to know about freezing your credit and why you need to.
What Is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze is a process that allows you to prevent anyone from accessing your creditors’ records. Credit freezes are usually triggered by criminals getting a hold of your personal information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, wallet or check numbers, and other personal information.
How to freeze your credit?
To keep your creditors from accessing your credit, you will need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus directly and request they place a security freeze on your credit file. Those are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
How to freeze your credit with Experian?
To freeze your credit with Experian, you will need to contact them by calling 888-397-3742 or Signing into Experian’s secure website https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html and going to the Credit Freeze page. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and select “Request a freeze.” Fill out the form that pops up on your screen.
How to freeze your credit with Equifax?
To freeze your credit with Equifax, you will need to contact them by calling 888-378-4329 or go online at their website https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/
How to freeze your credit with TransUnion?
To freeze your credit with TransUnion, you will need to call them at 888-909-8872 or via their website at https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
What Do You Need to Freeze your credit?
- Fill out a form with your personal information, including physical address and phone numbers, as well as a statement that you consent to the credit bureau placing a security freeze on your credit file.
- You may also need a copy of your passport, driver’s license or military ID to verify your identity.
- Proof of address such as a utility bill or bank statements
After your credit freeze is in place, your credit will be secure. No one will be able to open accounts without your consent and no one can see your current account balance, or apply for loans in your name without notifying the credit bureaus.
What’s the Difference Between a Credit Lock and a Security Freeze?
A credit freeze is mandated by federal law and it’s free from all the major bureaus. A credit lock, however, is optional and there may be extra fees associated with that.
The only advantage of a credit lock is that you can freeze and unfreeze with a finger swipe on your phone. Credit locks, they’re not as legally binding because they’re not governed by state law as a credit
When Should You Unfreeze Your Credit?
Personal Information Breaches
If someone is trying to access your credit, you may have a limited time to unfreeze your credit before the information is wiped from the lists. This can come in handy if you’ve had some identity fraud happen to you and you don’t know when it happened, but now would like to review that report for any inaccuracies.
Identity theft victims should unfreeze their credit as soon as possible to stop the spread of their identity. The longer your identity is out there, the more damage can be done to your credit and the longer it’s going to take you to repair it.
Protecting Your Child’s Credit
If you’ve recently become a parent, you should unfreeze your credit as soon as possible to prevent potential identity theft. Many children have already had their Social Security numbers stolen or used fraudulently.
What are the Benefits of Freezing your credit?
A credit freeze not only helps prevent fraudsters from opening fraudulent accounts in your name but freezing your credit can also prevent new account identity theft from being used to open up new lines of credit. Identity theft is a major problem in the U.S and freezing your credit can help prevent this from happening to you.
You don’t have to worry about monitoring your credit or having to remember to check it every few months, a credit freeze will keep everything in place so that you don’t have to worry about someone opening an account.
You can unfreeze your credit at any time if you need to apply for new credit. Freezing or unfreezing your credit doesn’t take very long and it should only be a phone call or an online form. You don’t have to worry about tracking down all of your paperwork, the credit bureau will do it all for you.
It is Free
Freezing your credit is free and easy to do, with no confusing hoops to jump through. You can do it all online or with a phone call, making it one of the easiest things you can do to protect your identity.
A Credit Freeze Doesn’t Affect Your Credit Score
A credit freeze doesn’t affect your credit score at all because no one can apply for a new account in your name or pull your report while you have it frozen. A credit freeze is a proactive way to protect your credit and it will only come into play if you decide to unfreeze your account at a later time.
What are the Disadvantages of Freezing Your Credit?
It’s Not Complete Protection
A credit freeze is not the complete solution to identity theft and fraud, it can help prevent new fraudulent accounts from being opened but there are still FICO scores being created behind the scenes. A credit freeze does nothing to help protect your score or your existing accounts.
It May Not Work with Certain Financial Institutions
A credit freeze may not work with some financial institutions and you may need to unfreeze your credit if you’re applying for a new mortgage or trying to get a new job.
Credit freezes are never designed to work with all financial institutions but you should check with the companies that you do business with before you freeze your credit.
You need to maintain your PIN
A credit freeze can be inconvenient if you need to unfreeze your account. You will need to remember your PIN and then travel to the credit bureaus and unfreeze it.
How much Does it Cost?
Credit freezes and unfreezes are mandated by federal law, so they’re 100% free from every major credit bureau. There are no fees for freezing or unfreezing your account and you don’t need to pay a service fee to an outside company to handle it for you.
Is my Personal Information at Risk?
A security freeze will prevent your personal information from being stolen and used in identity theft scams. It also helps protect your identity if your social security number was stolen and used by criminals.
How to unfreeze your credit?
When you want to unfreeze your credit, contact each of the three major bureaus directly and request that they lift the freeze on your account. They will need to verify your identity with either a password, PIN, or personal information. It will take less than an hour for the freezes to lift.
Freezing your credit is a way to help protect your identity from identity theft and fraud. The benefits of a credit freeze are numerous and it’s easy to do. However, you still need to protect yourself by protecting your credit with a PIN as well as managing and monitoring your accounts. It doesn’t cost anything, it takes less than an hour, and you don’t need any special documents or verification. Just contact the bureaus directly and they will walk you through the process.