What is a credit freeze? It actually refers to the freezing of your credit report at your request. Most of the time, this is the action taken if you experience identity theft.
It allows you to control access to your credit reports through a special PIN or password which means even if someone has your Social Security number and other personal information about you, they could not use that information to establish new lines of credit or to make purchases on credit in your name.
The good news is that the cost of freezing and unfreezing your credit reports became free on September 21, 2018.
Here are the reasons why you should freeze your credit:
- Data breach
- Identity theft
- Protect against identity theft for a child.
So what are the steps involved when you decide to freeze your credit? Read below:
- Contact the credit bureaus
First, you’ll need to make a request to freeze your credit report. Contact each of the major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each bureau will tell you what you need to do to freeze your credit. You can freeze access to your credit report online, by phone, or by mail.
- Provide your personal information
Next, you’ll need to supply information. It includes your full name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.
- Receive a PIN to manage your freeze
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion will give you a personal identification number (PIN) or password after it receives your request for a credit freeze. The same information will be needed to unfreeze your credit so make sure to keep it in a safe place.
- Manage your credit freeze
The federal law states that if you request a credit freeze online or by phone, the credit agency must process it within one business day.
When you’re ready to lift the freeze, the agency must do it within one hour of your request.