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What is a credit freeze?

What is a credit freeze

With the weather getting colder, it’s a good time to talk about a freeze. A credit freeze, that is. 😊 A credit freeze, or a security freeze, is a free tool that allows you to restrict access to your credit report. This makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open accounts under your name. That is because creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. So, if they can’t see the report, they may not open the account.

A credit freeze:

  • Does not affect your credit score. It also does not prevent you from getting a free annual credit report, keep you from applying for a job, renting or buying insurance, or prevent a thief from making a charge to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all your accounts.
  • Does not stop prescreened credit offers.
  • Locks down your credit, but it can still be accessed by your existing creditors or debt collectors and government agencies that may have access to respond to a court or administrative order.
  • Needs to be done at each of the credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
  • Can be lifted temporarily or removed all together. It must be lifted within an hour if the request is made on the phone or online. You would need to contact all three bureaus if you froze it at all three.
  • Can create delays when you need to access your credit reports quickly.
  • Is different than a fraud alert. A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take certain steps to verify your identity.

A credit freeze is an extreme step, but it is something that you can put in place if you’re dealing with identity theft, and a fraud alert has not been effective for you. And while it can protect you from someone opening an account in your name, it cannot protect you from having your identity stolen. You still need to take the necessary precautions to protect your personal information.

Information from: Federal Trade Comission and Experian

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