What is a credit freeze? A credit freeze is when you put a block on your credit report so no one can access it. This includes creditors, lenders, and even employers. A credit freeze is the best way to protect your credit score and prevent identity theft.
What is a credit freeze?
A credit freeze is a great way to help protect yourself from identity theft. A credit freeze allows you to restrict access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
You can still use your existing accounts if you have a credit freeze in place. And, as an added bonus, placing a credit freeze on your report will also stop most pre-approved offers of credit from coming your way. So if you’re tired of getting unsolicited offers for new credit cards and loans, a credit freeze may be the way to go.
To place a credit freeze on your report, you will need to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You will need to provide them with specific information about yourself, and you may need to pay a fee. After you have placed a freeze on your reports, you will be given a personal identification number (PIN) or password that you can use to lift the freeze temporarily or permanently, as needed.
If you think you may be the victim of identity theft, placing a fraud alert on your report is another option worth considering.
How does a credit freeze work?
When you place a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, on your credit report, you are essentially asking potential creditors to stop trying to pull your credit report. This request is usually made in writing, and you will have to provide proof of your identity. In most cases, you will also have to pay a fee to the credit reporting agency in order to place the freeze.
Once the freeze is in place, potential creditors will not be able to access your credit report, which means they will not be able to extend credit to you. If you are already a customer of a company, the credit freeze will not affect your ability to use existing lines of credit with that company.
You can place a credit freeze with all three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and you can usually do so online or over the phone.
Who can freeze their credit?
You can place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report to help prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. But what’s the difference between the two?
A fraud alert is free and notifies creditors they should verify your identity before opening any new accounts or increasing the credit limit on an existing account.
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is designed to stop anyone from viewing your credit report. This makes it much more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Unlike a fraud alert, which lasts only 90 days, a credit freeze lasts until you lift it.
You can place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report if you’re concerned about identity theft. But there are some differences between the two:
- A fraud alert is free and lasts 90 days. A credit freeze costs money and lasts until you lift it.
- A fraud alert allows creditors to view your credit report but requires them to verify your identity first. Acredit freeze stops anyone from viewing your credit report.
When should you consider a credit freeze?
If you are concerned about identity theft, or if you have been a victim of identity theft in the past, you may want to consider a credit freeze. A credit freeze can also be helpful if you are concerned about losing important financial documents.
There are several other reasons you may want to consider a credit freeze, including:
- You are planning on applying for a loan or other form of credit in the near future
- You are worried about companies accessing your credit report without your permission
- You do not want creditors to contact you about debts that are not yours
- You are concerned about companies using your information for marketing purposes
There are some drawbacks to consider before freezing your credit, including:
- It can take time and effort to unfreeze your credit when you need access to it
- You will still be responsible for debts that you incur while your credit is frozen
- Creditors may not be able to provide you with updates on account balances or transactions while your credit is frozen
How to place a credit freeze
You must contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies individually to place, lift, or remove a credit freeze.
There is no charge from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion to place, temporarily lift, or remove a credit freeze. However, some businesses may charge a fee of up to $5.00 each time they need to place a “freeze” on your file or send you confirmation the “freeze” has been placed.
How to lift a credit freeze
If you’ve placed a credit freeze on your file, you’ll need to take additional steps in order to lift it.
In order to lift a credit freeze, you’ll need to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) individually. You’ll also need to provide them with some personal information, such as your full name, date of birth and Social Security number. Once the credit reporting agency confirms your identity, they will provide you with a unique PIN or password that you can use to lift the freeze.
It’s important to note lifting a credit freeze doesn’t remove it from your file – it simply allows creditors to access your report for a specific period of time. If you plan on applying for new credit in the near future, you may want to consider lifting the freeze temporarily.
The pros and cons of a credit freeze
There are some potential downsides to a credit freeze. For example, if you are trying to apply for a new credit card or loan, you will need to unfreeze your credit first, which can take some time. Additionally, some employers and landlords may also run a credit check as part of their screening process, so a freeze may make it more difficult to rent an apartment or get a job.
Before you decide to freeze your credit, weigh the pros and cons carefully to see if it’s the right choice for you.
How a credit freeze compares to other credit protection measures
A credit freeze is the best way to help prevent new accounts from being opened in your name. A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report, making it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts.
A credit freeze is different from a fraud alert, which also restricts access to your credit report but only for a limited period of time. Additionally, a fraud alert does not prevent all access to your credit report, as businesses with a legitimate need for your information may still be able to request it.
A credit freeze is also different from a Credit Lock, which is a product offered by some credit reporting agencies. A Credit Lock may be lifted temporarily by the consumer, while a security freeze can only be lifted by the consumer through a written request mailed or delivered in person to each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
What to do if your credit is already frozen
If you already have a credit freeze in place on your Equifax credit report, you should contact Equifax to have the freeze temporarily lifted so you can apply for the new loan or credit card. You can remove the freeze by calling Equifax at 1-800-685-1111 or visiting Equifax.com and following the instructions.
FAQs about credit freezes
What is a credit freeze?
A credit freeze is a tool that can help you prevent fraudsters from opening new accounts in your name. With a credit freeze in place, lenders will not have access to your credit report, making it more difficult for them to approve new applications for loans or credit cards.
How do I place a credit freeze?
You can place a credit freeze by contacting each of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You will need to provide identifying information, such as your Social Security number and date of birth, and you will need to pay a fee (usually around $10) for each freeze.
How do I lift a credit freeze?
If you need to apply for new lines of credit, you can temporarily lift the freeze on your report by contacting the agencies and providing the appropriate PIN or password. You can also choose to permanently remove the freeze if you no longer feel it is necessary.
What are the drawbacks of a credit freeze?
One potential drawback of a credit freeze is that it may make it more difficult for you to obtain new lines of credit, since lenders will not have access to your report. Additionally, you may need to pay fees each time you place or lift a freeze on your report.