FREEZING Your Credit Should be Easier Now
In the current financial climate where it seems we all know somebody who has had their credit and personal information compromised or their identity stolen completely, it may be a good idea for you to freeze your credit. In the past, freezing your credit was a huge pain in the rear, did not always work properly, and often was very difficult to remove. I have heard stories about people trying to buy a car or obtain some type of financing only to learn the cautious freeze they put on and subsequently removed was still in place. In addition, their buying power was on hold until they sent registered letters and waited for the credit bureaus to take action.
In accordance with recent changes to the Dodd-Frank Act, consumers SHOULD be able to place and remove freezes on their credit file quickly, easily, and FREE.
You will Need to Contact all 3 Credit Bureas
- Equifax – to contact Equifax you can call them at 800-685-1111 or go online HERE. You can also check out a free step by step guide to freezing your Equifax file by Nerdwallet HERE.
- Experian – 888-397-3742 or go online HERE. Access the Nerdwallet step by step guide HERE.
- Transunion – 888-909-8872 or go onine HERE. Access the Nerdwallet Transunion Credit Freeze Guide HERE.
Once a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is in place, it secures your credit file so nobody can access it unless you give direct authorization to the credit bureaus, usually through a password-protected credit bureau website or PIN.
So Just What is a Credit Freeze?
A freeze makes your credit reports inaccessible to most people, with some exceptions:
- You can access your own records, including getting your free annual credit report. You can also check your free credit report summary on pages like NerdWallet while your credit reports are frozen.
- Preexisting creditors and debt collectors still have access.
A freeze has no effect on your credit score.
Last year’s Equifax data breach offers a compelling case for freezing your credit unless there’s a good reason not to. If you think your data may have been compromised, especially your all-important Social Security number, get a credit freeze.
Keep in Mind, a Credit Freeze can be a Pain in the Rear
Freezing your credit can be inconvenient. You need to contact all three bureaus. You also have to establish accounts with Equifax and TransUnion when you freeze or thaw online, while PINs are required when you unfreeze by phone or postal mail. Meanwhile, Experian requires you to keep track of your PIN to freeze and unfreeze your files regardless of method.
A freeze can give you a false sense of security — you may still be susceptible to credit fraud or other fraud involving your Social Security number.
A credit freeze won’t affect your current accounts, but if a thief steals the information on an existing account, your credit may be used without your permission. It is still important to check statements carefully.
That being said…credit theft can be a nightmare and freezing your credit is one of the strongest forms of protection for the sensitive data in your credit file so it may be a good idea.
I hope that is helpful. If you have any of your own tips/advice, please share with me.