Identity fraud is, unfortunately, always a risk in today’s day and age. With online payments and motivated fraudsters always lurking in the shadows, the chances your financial information gets into the wrong hands is always possible. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help mitigate those risks, and freezing your credit is one of the best ways to stay secure. So what exactly is a credit freeze? When should you do it? How does it work and will it negatively impact your credit score? We’ll answer all those questions and more below so keep reading!
What is a credit freeze?
Freezing your credit prevents lenders or other institutions from being able to access your credit information or open any new accounts. Think of it as locking up your information with you being able to hold the keys and decide when you want to open it back up again. It’s not a permanent action and can be unlocked whenever you want. What’s even better is that it’s a free service with each of the three major credit bureaus.
Why freeze your credit?
If you think that your personal information may have been compromised and you want to ensure that no one can open fraudulent accounts under your name, you’ll want to freeze your credit. If you’ve ever lost your wallet, had credit cards stolen, or been the victim of identity theft, freezing your credit can help mitigate any potential risks.
How to freeze your credit
As we’ve discussed before, there are three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and you’ll need to freeze your credit with each one individually. You can take care of this both online and over the phone. Be prepared to share some personal information to validate your identity at which point you’ll be provided with a PIN code for when you’re ready to unfreeze your credit. We’ve gone ahead and listed contact information for each bureau below.
Find their online freeze center HERE or call 1-888-EXPERIAN.
Find their online freeze center HERE or call 1-888-909-8872.
Find their online freeze center HERE or call 1-800-685-1111.
You’ll want to be sure you remember you unfreeze your accounts if you’re applying for anything where a pull on your credit is necessary. It can sometimes take a day or two for a freeze to be lifted, so be sure to factor in enough time to avoid delays in any applications.
Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a situation where a credit freeze is necessary. However, knowing how to tackle it if the situation arises will help ensure you can quickly and effectively take the necessary steps if the time comes. Until then, make sure you change those passwords often and always utilize safe online practices to avoid needing to freeze your credit in the first place!