A credit report freezing is basically a restriction where one can prevent others to access the credit report. This feature helps a person to control the financial information and prevent other people to see your credit score or other details by using publicly available reports from credit agencies.
Credit freeze helps to make the identity theft more difficult and protect the consumer in respect of both financial and moral terms.
TIP: A credit freeze never ever affects the credit score. Feel free to go with this option if you have any concern about your privacy or identity theft. Typically, every mortgage, lending, and credit card companies buy your information from credit bureaus whenever you apply to get their services. There are only 3 popular credit bureaus which provide credit information in United States – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
Every financials institute first collect info about your credit profile before making application approval. A credit freeze is helpful to prevent fraudsters from using your identity to take out mortgage or any other loan product by using your profile and name.
Credit Freeze is considered as a strong move for people experiencing any data breach. As this helps prevent others from getting or opening any new debt application. So, if any person tries to use your Social Security Number he will be declined automatically by financing institutes. But this method only works for new account opening and will not affect existing lines of credit and other options which do not require any credit check.
When credit report freezing should be initiated?
Some specific situation really demands a credit freeze to make your identity safe and prevent any possible loop hole for identity theft. Here are some of prime reasons where one can initiate a freeze to protect his/her self.
- When anyone becomes a victim of identity theft
- During any occasion of a major data breach
- You have lost your credit card or there is a risk someone can use your card number
- As a precaution you want to keep yourself away from identity theft
- You are using services form a credit monitoring agency
How to place a credit freeze at each credit bureau
To initiate a credit freeze you have to follow separate steps for each credit bureau and the steps are available at official websites. Credit freezing can be either done via using a phone helpline or at the official website. Another option is to mail your application along with required documents at the given address available at the end.
- 1-800-685-111 – Freeze Equifax Credit Report
- 1-888-397-3742 – Freeze Experian Credit Report
- 1-888-909-8872 – Freeze TransUnion Credit Report
You have to provide some personal information to initiate a credit freeze. This include your Name, address, phone number, email, date of birth, SSN, Identification proof and a payment source (i.e. credit card or account).
Each credit agency issues a unique PIN (personal identification number), which allows you to unlock your report when you are looking for any type of service like loan or credit card from financial institutions.
Each credit reporting agency will send the PIN via mail, you can preserve it at a secure place to avoid any future stolen/lost scenario. The cost of making a credit freeze varies state wise, but typically it is around $10. All credit bureau offer free credit freeze to people who are victim of identity theft.
A person is allowed to lift a credit freeze temporarily so that he/she can apply for any required product conveniently. Moreover, you can also remove credit freeze permanently and then banks can query your report without any restriction.
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, Georgia 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022-2000