All 3 major credit bureaus now allow you to freeze and unfreeze your credit for free! So, there’s really no reason for you not to use them. If you haven’t learned about credit freezes, here’s a brief overview of what they are and how credit freezes help prevent identity theft.
What Are Credit Freezes
When you apply for a credit card, home loan, or other similar debts, financial institutions will pull your credit score before approving your application. A credit freeze prevents them from doing so. Thus, it essentially prevents anyone (including yourself) from applying for new accounts or incurring those types of debts under your name. You may freeze your credit with each of the 3 credit bureaus by visiting their websites:
You will be required to provide certain personal information and to answer a series of questions related to your credit history. This is simply their way of verifying your identity.
Credit freezes only impact new account applications and not your existing accounts. So, it does not impact your ability to use any credit cards or loans that you already have.
How to Unfreeze Your Credit
The great thing about freezing your credit is, you can unfreeze it if you need to apply for a new account yourself. Simply visit the same 3 credit bureau websites to unfreeze. You can do so temporarily, allowing just enough time for your intended application.
If you created a login when you initially put a freeze on your credit, login to your account to unfreeze it.
Reasons to Freeze Your Credit
There are many reasons to freeze your credit:
- You shopped at a merchant whose system was hacked.
- You previously lost personal identification.
- You are aware that someone tried to apply for an account in your name.
- You had a previous incident of identity theft.
- You would like to proactively prevent potential identity theft.
Summary of How Credit Freezes Protect Identity Theft
Credit freezes are a great way to prevent identity theft. However, it’s important to note that it only covers use of your personal information for accounts that involve credit checks. It’s still possible for thieves to use your identity in other ways. If you are a victim of identity theft, contact an attorney for legal assistance.