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Getting Started with Credit Freezes

What is a credit freeze?

Also known as a security freeze, a credit freeze allows you to restrict access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Most creditors will want to request your credit report before they approve a new account. If they can't review your report, they may not extent credit and then no account would be opened.

Keep in mind, however, that a credit freeze may prevent you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment or buying insurance. If you need to do any of these, you can lift the freeze temporarily either for a specified time or to allow access to a specified party. You can have the freeze lifted for free and place it again for free when you are done allowing access to your credit.

While a credit freeze can help prevent identity thieves from opening accounts using your information, they will not prevent a thief from accessing existing accounts and will not prevent prescreened offers of credit.

All the national bureaus are required, by law, to offer you credit freezes for free. Remember, freezing your credit will not impact your credit score or prevent you from getting your free annual credit report and your existing creditors and certain governmental agencies will still have access to your credit report.

How to place a Credit Freeze

Contact each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. If you do not freeze at all three sources, your credit file will still be available for lenders to access.

To confirm your identity, you may need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. 

After receiving your freeze request, each credit bureau will provide you with a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PINs or passwords in a safe place. You will need them if you choose to lift the freeze with each bureau.

In almost all states, a credit freeze lasts until you temporarily lift or permanently remove it. In a few states, it expires after seven years.

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Last modified: 06/19/2019