October 23, 2019
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to freeze your credit report with each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Is a credit freeze right for you? We answer some frequently asked questions.
What is a credit freeze and does it affect my credit score?
- A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report by preventing your credit file from being shared with potential creditors. Placing a freeze on your credit will not impact your credit score.
What should I expect when initiating a freeze?
- The process is relatively straightforward, although it must be done with each individual credit reporting agency. You will need to be prepared to answer a series of security questions.
Does a credit freeze prevent a thief from making charges to existing accounts?
- No. Customers are still encouraged to monitor their deposit accounts for any suspicious activity.
Does a credit freeze keep me from opening a new account, getting a loan, applying for a job, renting an apartment, applying for insurance, or other credit verification activities?
- If you elect to place a credit freeze with reporting agencies, it is important to remember you will need to lift the freeze when applying for credit or allowing someone to request your credit report. You can authorize a lift for a certain time frame, or for a specific inquiry (new employer as an example). As of September 2018, federal law allows people to freeze and unfreeze their credit at all three major credit bureaus for free. And, unless you unfreeze your credit by mail this process will only take a matter of minutes.
Does a credit freeze prevent all access to my reports?
- No. Existing creditors and debt collector will still have access. Certain government agencies may also have access in response to a court or administrative order, subpoena, or search warrant.
What is the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?
- A credit freeze locks down your report. A fraud alert allows creditors to access your report as long as they take steps to verify your identity.