With the increased frequency of security breaches that we hear throughout the news, it’s hard not to get concerned about who may have access to your credit and other personal information.
In considering ways to protect yourself, freezing your credit is an option that is often considered. But for this tool to work for you, you need to understand what a credit freeze is and what it is not.
A credit freeze:
- Is a tool that restricts people and companies from accessing your credit report without your specific permission
- Is not the same as a fraud alert
- Does not affect your credit scores
- Does allow you to still request your free credit report annually – annualcreditreport.com
- May be temporarily removed
- May be permanently removed
- Does not cost you anything to put in place
- Can be put in place within minutes of your request
- Can be lifted within minutes, however, each credit bureau may take longer to react so you need to confirm with each of the 3 bureaus what their time frame is
- Bottom lines makes it harder for identity thieves to steal your credit and personal information or open new accounts in your name
In order to implement a credit freeze, the credit bureaus will need the following information provided by you:
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Your address (physical not mailing)
Other than creditors, the following are some additional reasons that you may need to have a credit freeze lifted:
- Applying for a job
- Apply for new credit
- Opening new utility accounts or cell services
Once a credit freeze is in place, your credit is secured so that nobody can access it unless you give them direct authorization to do so through the 3 credit bureaus. Typically, this is done through a password-protected credit bureau website or PIN.
To freeze your credit, you can call the 3 bureaus or go on-line as follows: