A security freeze prevents potential creditors from accessing your credit history. Then, criminals can’t get loans or other forms of credit in your name.
Data breaches have affected millions of people in recent years. Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver ‘s license numbers have all been exposed in hacks. If your personal information was taken as separate of a data gap, person has stolen your identity, or you have argue to believe that you ‘re likely to become the victim of identity larceny, you should initiate a credit freeze. A credit rating freeze prevents a thief from opening up accounts in your diagnose and ruining your credit .
credit freezes—often called “ security freeze ” —basically seal your credit history. The freeze prevents a accredit coverage chest of drawers from releasing your credit information to a third gear party. so, if a thief tries to use your Social Security act and other personal data to apply for a mortgage lend or another class of credit, the creditor would reject the application because it could n’t check your credit .
Exceptions to a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze by and large does n’t have an impact on your existing accounts.
A Credit Freeze Doesn’t Affect Your Current Accounts, Like Your Credit Card Accounts
A common misconception is that a credit freeze means you ca n’t use your stream forms of recognition, like a credit tease. But your credit report is n’t accessed when you purchase something with a citation menu. sol, freezing your credit file does n’t affect your ability to use your existing accounts.
Freezing your recognition besides wo n’t prevent misuse of your current accounts. If the thief stole your credit card information, that person can use your existing credit batting order during a accredit freeze .
Existing Creditors Can Still Access Your Credit History
flush under a credit freeze, an existing creditor can access to your credit report for certain types of history review, solicitation purposes, fraud manipulate, or relate activities. For model, the watch entities may hush entree your credit report during a freeze :
- a collection agency acting on behalf of an existing creditor, and
- state or local agencies, such as law enforcement and child support agencies.
When to Use a Credit Freeze
It is generally advised that you request a credit freeze at the three national credit rating report agencies— Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion —if :
- you know someone has stolen your identity
- you’ve been told that your personal identifying information has been compromised
- if you suspect someone has stolen your Social Security number and other information, like your date of birth, that can be used to open credit in your name, or
- you want to be especially cautious when it comes to your credit files.
Should I Freeze My Child’s Credit Report?
normally, children under 18 do n’t have a credit phonograph record. After all, new kids normally do n’t apply for mortgages, bank loans, or credit cards. For this rationality, a child ‘s personal data—like a Social Security number—that is n’t associated with delinquent accounts is very appealing to an identity thief. If a criminal steals your child ‘s personal information, the thief can use that information to take out loans and get other types of credit. When the thief fails to repay those debts, your child ‘s credit will be badly damaged. And this crime might go unnoticed for years. But you can preemptively stop a crook from harming your child ‘s credit with a credit freeze .
To freeze your child ‘s credit, contact each of the three credit coverage agencies. You ‘ll need to provide some software documentation, like a imitate of your child ‘s birth certificate, equally well as proof that you have the parental correct to freeze the child ‘s credit, like a copy of your driver ‘s license that shows your name and address. If your child does n’t already have a credit report with the agency, ask the means to create one and then freeze it. It ‘s good news program if your child does n’t already have a report with the means ; it normally means a thief is n’t opening accounts under the child ‘s name .
How to Set Up a Credit Freeze
You may request a security freeze by contacting Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion individually. You can make your request :
- by certified mail, or
- by calling the credit bureau.
You must make freestanding freeze requests with each credit agency .
How to Temporarily or Permanently Lift the Freeze
The freeze by and large remains in place until you choose to lift or “ thaw ” it. When you place a credit freeze on your file, you ‘ll receive a personal designation phone number ( PIN ) or password that you can use to :
- permanently lift the freeze or
- temporarily lift the freeze for a specific party or amount of time.
Under federal law, the chest of drawers must lift the security system freeze not by and by than :
- one hour after receiving the request, if you make the request by toll-free telephone or secure electronic means, or
- three business days after receiving the request, if you make the request by mail. ( 15 U.S.C. § 1681c-1 ) .
Cost to Set Up a Credit Freeze
In the past, the cost of imposing a citation freeze varied between states. It typically ranged between $ 3 and $ 10 for each credit report agency. Lifting the freeze temporarily or removing the freeze wholly besides used to cost a fee .
nowadays, though, thanks to the federal Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act ( Senate Bill 2155 ), placing and lifting a recognition freeze is rid in every department of state. ( 15 U.S.C. § 1681c-1 ) .
Placing a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Files
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You might besides consider placing a fraud alert on your files. That way, flush if you lift a freeze therefore that a creditor can entree your credit history, that creditor still has to take fair steps to verify that the credit request is valid .
To learn more about how to protect yourself if person steals your identity or what to do after your personal information is compromised in a datum breach, go to Identitytheft.gov. Identitytheft.gov is the federal politics ‘s main resource for identity larceny victims. You can get a personal recovery plan, find sample letters to send to your creditors, and get an Identity Theft Report. The web site besides provides valuable information about what to do after your identity is stolen, other possible steps you should take, and specific instructions for certain accounts such as utilities, phones, government benefits, checking accounts, etc .
If you need help dealing with collectors or if you ‘re being sued because a thief used your identity to incur debts, talk to an lawyer .