How to freeze your credit?
December 05, 2019
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We see fraud situations every single day, especially in this current digitalized world, where cyber criminals can break codes and access to your personal and financial data. Even though the government and even financial institutions have implemented mechanisms of security for this, there are still cases where fraudsters use your identity to get credit accounts under your profile.
Freezing your credit can be a good option for those who want to protect their credit file, but before doing it, you should take a look on what involves, if it is a good protection method for you and other options out there.
What is a Credit Freeze?
Credit Freeze is a way to protect your sensitive data by limiting the access to your credit files without specific consent. This will also fraudsters to make any action regarding to credit applications, even if they have your personal information such as full name, address, birth date and even Social Security Number.
When freezing your credit, you limit almost all businesses and lender from accessing your credit information, which will also mean companies cannot approve any credit application made under your name.
This does not mean you will not have access to your credit forever. The customer can use a PIN and password provided by the bureau, in order to unfreeze your credit whenever you they decide to do it.
Freezing credit use to be a paid service until a few months ago, that a federal law decreed it as a free service in all 50 states of America, so any american can prevent credit fraud. Since it is now a no-cost tool, we would recommend people to freeze their credit, especially if you're not actively looking for a credit card or a loan, freezing your credit card might be a good option or you.
On the other hand, if you are not trying to block your access to your credit records, you could also get a monitoring service - which is not free -, that will send you alerts any time there is an activity regarding your credit information. Though, it will not stop criminals to use your information but let you know as soon as it happens.
Pros and Cons of Credit freezing
Reduces risk of identity theft to avoid criminals from using information for credit fraud by limiting the access to lenders and businesses to your credit records.
It is a free service provided by the three major consumer credit bureaus
Gives you the power of controlling the frozen status to whenever you decide to have it available.
It does not affect your credit score at all.
It does not stop your authorized creditors to keep their businesses with you and your credit records, unless you request the opposite.
A freeze does not guarantee a criminal to file taxes on your name.
To lift the freeze, you will have to contact each bureau before you need to get a credit check for any financial product (loans, credit cards, etc). This action can take from one hour to a few days.
If a criminal already have your credentials or access to your accounts, freezing will not protect you from fraud.
It can cause delays in some daily applications such as applications for cell phone plans, for jobs or other processes that require a credit check.
Unfreezing and freezing multiple times can cost you patience and time.
How to freeze my credit?
If you have already decided to freeze your credit, you will have to contact each of the three major consumer bureaus in the US and request a Credit Freeze. You can do this by calling or through their website. The process is easy and it may only require to give some personal information to prove your identity, such as full name, birthdate, SSN and other data if needed.
Once it is requested, the bureau will provide you a PIN and a password for future action on your credit freezing status.
These are the 3 entities to contact once you are ready to start freezing your credit:
Phone: 1-800-685-1111 or 1-800-349-9960 (for New York residents only)