How To Freeze Your Credit
These days, it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on your credit.
With data breaches becoming more and more common, it’s only a matter of time before your personal information ends up in the wrong hands.
One way to protect yourself is to freeze your credit. This means that no one can open new accounts or lines of credit in your name.
While it may seem like a hassle, freezing your credit is relatively simple. In this guide, we’ll explain how to put a freeze on your credit and what it means for your financial life.
What Is Credit Freezing?
A credit freeze is a way to stop anyone from opening new accounts in your name.
A credit freeze essentially puts your credit report on lockdown, making it harder for identity thieves to open new lines of credit in your name.
When you put a credit freeze on your report, potential creditors cannot see your report and therefore cannot extend you new credit.
It’s important to note that a credit freeze does not stop all forms of identity theft. If an identity thief has already stolen your information to open an account, a credit freeze will not stop them from using these existing accounts.
If you think you may be the victim of identity theft, or if you have already been the victim, you should take steps to protect your information.
One way to do this is to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Another way to protect yourself is to freeze your credit.
How To Freeze Your Credit for Free
To place a credit freeze on your report, you will need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
You can typically do this online or over the phone. Once you have contacted each bureau, you will be given a personal identification number (PIN) or password that you will use to unfreeze your account if necessary.
Here’s how to freeze your credit report
Contact the credit bureaus
Contact each of the three major credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – and request a freeze be placed on your credit report. You can do this by phone, mail, or online.
Provide your personal information
You’ll need to provide some personal information – including your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and other identifying information – to verify your identity.
Get a confirmation letter and PIN
Once you’ve requested the freeze, each bureau will send you a confirmation letter with a unique PIN or password that you’ll need to lift the freeze in the future. Make sure to keep this information in a safe place!
Your credit is frozen
Once your credit is frozen, any businesses that try to pull your credit report will be unable to do so. If you need to apply for new credit – for example, a loan or mortgage – you’ll need to temporarily lift the freeze beforehand.
Pros and Cons Of Credit Freezing
When you freeze your credit, lenders cannot access your credit report to approve new loans or lines of credit.
This can be an advantage if you are concerned about identity theft and want to prevent new accounts from being opened in your name.
A credit freeze can also be helpful if you are trying to manage your debt by preventing new borrowing.
However, there are some disadvantages to freezing your credit. First, it can take time and effort to place a freeze and lift it when you need to apply for new credit.
Second, you may still be vulnerable to certain types of fraud, such as existing account takeover or “change of address” fraud.
Finally, a freeze will not prevent all types of identity theft – for example, thieves could still use your stolen information to apply for government benefits or file false tax returns.
How To Freeze Your Child’s Credit
Minors typically don’t have credit reports but you can still request your child’s credit report to be frozen.
Unfortunately, although minors don’t yet have a credit history, it won’t prevent fraudsters to use their identities and apply for credit in their names.
if you’re a parent or legal guardian, you can freeze your child’s credit by requesting a freeze from the three credit bureaus. You’ll typically need to:
- Complete the request form
- Provide proof of your identity
- Proof of your child’s identity
- Proof that you are their parent or legal guardian
The process typically takes a few business days to complete and if you have more than one child you can send multiple applications at once, as long as you provide all the documentation with your request.
How To Unlock Your Credit Freeze
If your credit is frozen, you may be wondering how to unfreeze it. The process is actually quite simple and can be done online or over the phone.
To unfreeze your credit, you will need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus individually and request that they lift the freeze. You’ll need to provide your personal information and identification.
Once the freeze is lifted, your credit will be back to normal and you’ll be able to apply for new lines of credit or loans.
Tip: If you’re in the market for a new car or home, unfreeze your credit first!
Experian Credit Freeze
Experian offers a free Credit Freeze service that makes it easy to put a freeze on your credit report.
To place a Credit Freeze with Experian:
- Visit their website and click on the “Place a Credit Freeze” link.
- Enter your personal information, including your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.
- Create a unique PIN that you will use to lift or remove the freeze from your credit file.
Experian will send you a confirmation letter with instructions on how to lift or remove the freeze from your credit file.
Transunion Credit Freeze
Here’s how to freeze your credit with Transunion:
Visit their website and select ‘Add a Freeze’. You’ll need to provide your personal information to create an account, before freezing it in a few simple steps.
Freezing your account with Transunion is free and won’t impact your credit score.
Equifax Credit Freeze
Equifax is one of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, and freezing your Equifax credit makes it difficult for criminals to access your information.
You can freeze your Equifax credit report online. Visit their website and go to ‘Get Started With a Freeze’. You’ll need to provide some personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.
Once you’ve requested a security freeze, Equifax will send you a confirmation letter with a PIN that you’ll need to thaw or unfreeze your credit reports.
Keep this information in a safe place; if you lose it, you’ll have to go through the process of requesting a new security freeze.
If you decide that you’d like to apply for new credit in the future, contact Equifax and request that they unfreeze your report.
Credit freezing is an important step to take to protect your identity and financial information.
Remember, freezing your credit does not mean you can never use it again, but it does mean that no one will be able to open new accounts in your name.
So take the time to do it right, and you’ll be glad you did.