How to Protect Your Credit with a Credit Freeze
Identity theft affects nearly 60 million Americans, according to a 2018 Harris Poll with credit card fraud accounting for 33% of all identity fraud complaints. One way to protect your identity is with a credit freeze.
What is a credit freeze?
A credit freeze prevents unauthorized users from accessing your credit without your approval. It provides a major roadblock to any scammers trying to open a fraudulent credit account in your name.
Pros of freezing your credit:
- A credit freeze does not affect your ability to use the credit accounts you already have.
- It does not affect your credit score.
- It’s free through all three of the credit bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) per federal law as of September 21, 2018.
Cons of freezing your credit
- All three credit bureaus must be contacted by phone or online which can be inconvenient.
- Accounts may have to be established online and PIN numbers need to be remembered to unfreeze your credit.
- If you are looking for a new job, car, or home, a credit freeze can be problematic.
It is important to place the credit freeze with all three credit bureaus to be effective. You can unfreeze your credit at any time in the event you need access to it (i.e., home or car purchase, new credit card, etc.). You will be given a pin number that allows you to lift the freeze on your account.
Below are links to all three credit bureaus and their specific steps to freeze your credit:
- Equifax (800-685-1111): https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
- Transunion (888-909-8872): https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
- Experian (888-397-3742): https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze
While on their website, you can also get the information needed to freeze your minor’s credit report or an incapacitated adult’s credit report.
- While frozen, you can still monitor your own credit by requesting free credit reports from each credit bureau once per year https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action.
- Update your account passwords using strong and unique passwords for every account.
- Many credit card companies offer free credit monitoring services.
- Review account statements regularly for suspicious activity.
- Opt out of credit and insurance offers at www.optoutprescreen.com.
- What Else Can You Do To Secure Your Online Financial Information – The Colony Group’s Her Wealth
- OptOutPreScreen – To opt out of credit or insurance offers
- How To Freeze Your Credit With Equifax: It’s Free – NerdWallet
- Should I Freeze My Credit? Impact on Auto and Home Insurance Premiums – Insure.com
- How Do I Get a Free Credit Freeze? – NerdWallet