How to Freeze Your Credit
“What is a credit freeze?” and other frequently asked questions about how to freeze your credit
What is a credit freeze? Why might you consider freezing your credit? How do you freeze your credit? You may find yourself asking these and other questions about credit freezes. You are probably not alone in having questions about credit freezes or identity theft. In this article, we’ll take a broad look at some of the possible questions surrounding credit freezes and credit security.
What is a credit freeze?
What exactly does it mean to put a freeze on your credit? A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, refers to a restriction you place on your credit report. This tool makes it harder for identity thieves to open new lines of credit, like credit cards, in your name. The reason is that banks and businesses typically need to see a credit report before they approve a new account.
Why freeze your credit?
Again, a credit freeze makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Even if you do not have any immediate concerns of identify theft, you may choose to freeze your credit and restrict access to your credit report to increase your credit security.
How much does it cost to freeze your credit?
How do you freeze your credit for free?
It’s nice to know that you can freeze your credit for free with the three main credit bureaus. However, you may still be wondering how to freeze your credit. In order to freeze your credit for free, you will need to contact each one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can simply request a credit freeze online. Or, if you prefer, you might be able to mail in a request or freeze your credit over the phone. Understandably, in order to freeze your credit, you may be required to provide your social security number, birthday, and other personal identification information. You then may be asked to select a PIN to protect your report. Finally, you may be able to freeze a credit report for a child under 16 years of age as well.
Do you need to contact all three of the main credit bureaus to freeze your credit?
In order to completely freeze your credit and restrict access to your credit reports, you will need to contact each of the main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) individually.
How to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit bureaus
How to freeze your credit at Equifax
- Visit this URL and click the Get Started button
- Enter your personal information and create an account
- Request a freeze on your credit
How to freeze your credit at Experian
- Visit this URL and click the following two buttons: Add a Security Freeze, and Freeze my Own Credit
- Enter your personal information and choose a PIN
- Click submit and request a freeze on your credit
How to freeze your credit at TransUnion
- Visit this URL and click the Manage Freeze button
- Create an account and verify your identity
- Request a freeze on your credit
Is freezing your credit a good idea?
Depending on your situation, freezing your credit may or may not be a good idea. Ultimately, determining whether freezing your credit is a good idea might come down to weighing the pros and cons and examining your own unique circumstances.
What are the potential pros of freezing your credit?
Freezing your credit might put your mind at ease. The process is designed to make it more difficult for identity thieves to access your credit reports in order to open accounts in your name. It is a process to help you potentially lower the chances of identity theft.
What are the potential cons of freezing your credit?
Can you still build credit with a credit freeze?
You can still build credit with a credit freeze. It does not affect your ability to use your current credit cards and practice behaviors that can help build credit. You will need to go through the process of lifting the freeze on your credit to open up new lines of credit, including new credit cards.
Does freezing your credit hurt your credit?
No, freezing your credit does not affect your credit score. It also will not affect your ability to get your annual free credit report. It also does not keep you from opening a new credit card account, though you must first lift the freeze to do so.
Does freezing your credit prevent you from getting a free credit report?
Is freezing your credit different from locking your credit?
How long does it take for a credit freeze to be lifted?
A credit freeze must be lifted within an hour, if the request is made by phone or online. When you lift the freeze on your credit, you determine whether you’d like to permanently lift the freeze or just temporarily remove the restriction. Temporary lifts might be beneficial if you have a potential employer or lender interested in accessing your credit report. If you do know which credit bureau the business uses, you only need to lift your freeze with that bureau. If not, you will need to lift your freeze with all bureaus. Opting to permanently lift a credit freeze means your credit will remain unfrozen until you request another freeze.
Are there any alternatives to a credit freeze?
You might opt to place a fraud alert with any of the three credit bureaus. Per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “when you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit, so it may try to contact you.” Fraud alerts stay on your credit report for one year. After a year, you can place a new alert. The law also requires that the credit bureau from which you requested the alert notifies the other two bureaus.
If you’re worried about identity theft, knowing how to freeze your credit may be important. You might also access a free credit report annually. With the right information and if you watch your credit report regularly, you might be better equipped to manage your credit security.
We hope that you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.