Here’s the steps you need to take to freeze your credit.
A credit freeze is a financial maneuver that allows you to block others from accessing your files. That helps put a stop to identity thieves and other types of con artists trying to rip you off.
It is one of the few real financial tools that we have to protect ourselves from all sorts of crimes committed against us or in our name by someone else.
Here’s how it can help you…
A company or lender needs to see your files before they extend credit to you or lend you money in any way.
So if you have a credit freeze, a thief wouldn’t be able to open new accounts or borrow money in your name because the companies they seek money from wouldn’t be able to look at your reports.
That’s how a credit freeze helps protect you.
It’s one of the best tools you have for preventing ID theft and other types of financial crimes from being committed against you.
But it doesn’t eliminate theft completely.
If a thief already has access to your existing bank or credit card accounts, they can siphon money out of there.
So that’s something you would still need to watch out for, even with the credit freeze in place.
Contrary to popular belief, a freeze does not hurt your credit score, nor does it hurt your chances of getting a job.
Activating a freeze is a very simple and straightforward process.
Here’s the simple steps you need to take to freeze your credit…
1. Contact the Credit Bureaus
Unfortunately, you’re going to have to contact all three bureaus individually one by one.
The good news for consumers is that each company has a section on their website dedicated to credit freezes. Simply go to each company’s dedicated web page and follow the instructions.
Doing it online is the fastest way to get the freeze in place. But you can also do it by Mail or over the phone.
Here is the contact information for each company…
Experian Credit Freeze page
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Credit Freeze page
P.O. Box 160
Woodlyn, PA 19094
Equifax Credit Freeze page
Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Naturally, they’re going to need to confirm some of your personal information like your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and a few other items.
2. Get Your PIN
What happens once you request the credit freeze?
You’ll receive a personal identification number (PIN) from each of the three bureaus.
This is what you will be using to access your account online and to unfreeze your credit whenever you need to.
So it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t lose this number and that you keep it in a safe place. If you do lose this number, it’s going to be a nightmare down the road trying to unfreeze everything.
When is a good time to unfreeze?
When you apply for a loan or any type of new credit. Then you’ll have no choice but to do the unfreeze.
3. Stay on Top of the Freeze
To stay on top of everything, you simply login to the account with the credit Bureau by using the credentials and pin number they gave you.
Remember to always safeguard your pin number.
You’ll need it for anything you want to do with your account, including any changes you may want to make. Building up new credit can also be done during this time.
Thinking about buying a home and applying for a mortgage? Maybe you’re looking to obtain a car loan?
Then you’ll want to pause your credit freeze.
Accomplishing that is a fairly simple task.
Just go to the credit bureaus website with the special pin number that they gave you and make the necessary changes. Of course, putting a stop to your credit freeze by mail is going to take longer.
It will usually take a few days to unfreeze everything by mail.
A credit freeze is one of the most powerful financial tools Americans possess to battle fraud and theft.
And it’s fairly easy to activate and deactivate.
So you shouldn’t hesitate to put it to good use if you feel something is not right with your finances.
The best time to apply a credit freeze is when you believe someone has your personal information and might use it or is currently trying to use it to steal your identity or money from you.
Credit freezes give you a measure of comfort, security, and peace-of-mind. And they help keep thieves away from your hard-earned money.
If you have kids, you can apply a freeze to their credit files also.
The only drawbacks are that you have to manage three different accounts at three different credit bureaus. That can become a hassle at times. But it’s well worth it in the end.
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