To Freeze or Not to Freeze

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

If you don’t need your credit for a while then you may want to freeze your credit. A credit report freeze (aka: credit freeze, credit report lock or security freeze) is a way for you to control how a credit reporting agency can sell your data. By freezing your credit report file, you control who and when your credit report can be accessed. Remember, creditors typically won’t offer you more credit if they can’t access your credit report, so a freeze can make it a bit more time consuming when applying for a loan. However, the benefit of preventing others from opening fraudulent accounts in your name is well worth the extra steps when applying for credit.

Credit report freezes are generally viewed as the most effective way to prevent an identity thief from opening a new credit account in your name.

Only a limited number of entities can see your file while a freeze is in place, including:

  • Creditors of accounts you currently hold
  • Certain government entities like child support agencies
  • Companies that you’ve hired to monitor your credit file

 

Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have laws that govern the procedures and requirements for security freezes and how much you can pay for them. For the remaining states (Alabama, Michigan, and Missouri), the nationwide credit reporting companies have voluntarily given residents the opportunity to place freezes. Freezes are generally free for victims of identity theft to place, and in some states to lift. Others may be charged a fee.

You can place a “freeze” on your credit file at any time, but you must contact each credit reporting company. For more information, visit the nationwide credit reporting companies’ websites or call the numbers below:

Equifax: Place, Temporarily Lift or Permanently Remove a Security Freeze, (800) 685-1111

Experian: Security Freeze, (888) 397-3742

TransUnion: Manage a State Security Freeze Online, (800) 680-7289

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