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How to Freeze Your Credit For Free

How to Freeze Your Credit For Free

Everyone that thinks criminals compromise their personal information can restrict all access to their credit report. You can do this by requesting a freeze by all three national credit bureaus. With this, you block all unauthorized access to your credit, requesting any legitimate inquiry into your credit.

 

This article will explore credit freeze and what you should know about it.

What is a Credit freeze?

A credit freeze aims to protect you from identity and fraud theft. With this, no one can access your credit report until you thaw such credit. Such a freeze will not affect your credit score even though it will prevent any access to it. 

When you freeze your credit, criminals and anyone who tries to steal your identity will not be able to use your sensitive personal info to request a new credit in your name. Since they will not have access to your credit scores and report, processing any credit application will not be successful. 

The action, however, comes with a drawback in that it prevents both legit and unauthorized checks to your credit. As a result, applications for loans, house rent, and whatever becomes impossible except you thaw the report. To unfreeze, you need to contact each bureau individually, and they will act based on your request. 


Criteria to Freeze Your Credit

Victims of identity theft have other options to protect themselves and their credit. Rather than freezing your credit, a security alert might be a viable option. 

Like a fraud alert, placing a security alert involves adding your phone number to your account, so lenders can reach you whenever there is a new application to verify the applicant. This qualifies one for an additional free credit report after adding a victim statement. When you review your report, you can know if you are a victim to take the right action. 

However, a security freeze is a good idea for extreme cases when multiple fraud attempts on you. Here are circumstances that warrant immediate action:

  • You get strange bills or collection notices in your mail, which could be in your name or another's.

  • You saw new credits or inquiries on your credit report, revealing interactions with lenders or firms that are strange.

  • You get a notification of fraud on your account from your credit union

  • There is a notification that you might be a victim of a data breach



Who has access to a Frozen Credit?

While a credit freeze will stop all inquiries into your credit, some parties still have access to your credit. Examples are:

  • You, the owner can view your credit report

  • You have an account with card issuers and lenders since credit check is part of their account management process. 

  • Rental agencies and landlords, when screening you.

  • Utility companies and phone bills to determine the security deposit amount essential on equipment.

  • Debt collection agencies who try to get payment

  • Child support, in establishing child support

  • Issuers of credit cards that already pre-screened you for credit

  • Government agencies executing warrants or court orders

  • Employers you already authorized, who are conducting background checks


How to Place a Credit Freeze

There are dedicated pages on ExperianTransUnion, and Equifax with separate web pages where they freeze their credit. For an online request, you might have to supply (or the bureau gives you one) a  password or PIN for the reactivating process. 

You can also freeze your credit by mail by writing to Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013. Your request needs to include the following:

  • Your full name

  • Social security number

  • The full address for the last two years

  • Date of Birth

  • A copy of any government-issued ID card – driver's license, passport, etc.

  • A copy of your utility bill like a bank statement, phone bills, etc. 

Each copy must be legible and display your full name and current mailing address alongside the date of issue. 


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