A Credit Freeze, also known as a security freeze, restricts access to your credit report and prevents a credit bureau from releasing your credit information to a third party. In other words, it seals your credit history, which means others or even you won’t be able to open a new credit account while the freeze is in effect. However, if you need to apply for new credit, you can momentarily lift the credit freeze. When the credit freeze is in place, you can still do things such as apply for a job, rent an apartment, or buy insurance without removing or lifting the freeze.
In recent years, millions of people have been impacted by data breaches. Social security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers of consumers have been compromised in data breaches. Identity theft has become an increasing crime with the growing technology. If your personal information was stolen as a result of a data breach, if your identity has been stolen, or if you believe that you are likely to be a victim of identity theft, in those circumstances, you should initiate a credit freeze. It prevents potential creditors from accessing your credit history. Therefore, criminals will not be able to get loans or other kinds of credit under your name and ruin your credit. For instance, if a thief tries to use your personal information, such as your SSN, to apply for a loan, the creditor would reject the application because it would not be able to check your credit.
When To Use A Credit Freeze
You should request a credit freeze if:
® If you are suspicious that someone has stolen your social security number and other personal details, such as your date of birth, that can be used to open a credit card in your name.
® If you feel someone has stolen your identity
® If you've been informed that your personal identifying information has been compromised.
You want to be extra cautious when it comes to your credit files.
You can request a credit freeze by contacting the credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion individually online, by certified mail, or by calling the credit bureau personally. Your request must be made to all three of the credit bureaus separately.
In the past, placing and lifting a temporary freeze on your credit used to cost a fee. Now according to the Federal Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, it's absolutely free to freeze and unfreeze your credit.
A credit freeze is the best way to help prevent unauthorized access to your account, and doing so will not negatively impact your credit score.