WHAT IS A CREDIT FREEZE?
A credit freeze, which is also referred to as a security freeze, allows you to block an identity thief from opening a new account or line of credit using your name or identity. A credit freeze keeps new creditors from accessing your credit report without your permission. If you activate a credit freeze, an identity thief cannot take out new credit in your name, even if the thief has your Social Security number or other personal information. This is because the credit freeze has the effect of blocking creditors from accessing your credit report.
Getting a credit freeze provides more protection against identity theft or misuse of your financial information than a credit monitoring services, which only notify you of suspicious activities after they happen.
WILL I HAVE TO PAY TO OBTAIN A CREDIT FREEZE?
No. Thanks to a federal law that went into effect on September 21, 2018, all three major credit agencies are required to provide you with a credit freeze, free of charge. If you request a freeze online or by phone, the agency must place the freeze within one business day.
HOW TO GET A CREDIT FREEZE
Anyone can request a credit freeze free of charge. Make sure you freeze your credit with each credit bureau- a freeze with one bureau will not transfer to the others. Here is the contact information free each of the three credit bureaus:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion LLC Security Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
WILL A CREDIT FREEZE PREVENT ME FROM OPENING UP A LINE OF CREDIT FOR MYSELF?
Yes. If you want to obtain a credit card account or other line of credit after you get a credit freeze, you will need to contact the credit reporting agencies and arrange for the freeze to be lifted. If you request a lift of the freeze, the agency must lift it within one hour. If you make your request by mail, the agency must place or lift the freeze within three business days after it gets your request. You also can lift the freeze temporarily without a fee.
WILL A CREDIT FREEZE HURT MY CREDIT SCORE?
No. Putting a credit freeze on your credit file does not affect your credit score.