Millions of people are victims of identity theft every single year just in the US alone but did you know that there are free things you can do to lower your chances of being a victim? Not to mention, completely eliminate a criminal’s ability to affect your financial situation.
What we’re talking about here is a credit freeze. What is that you might ask? NerdWallet has some good info on this and how you can go about freezing your credit:
A credit freeze keeps the sensitive data in your credit files from being accessed without your specific consent. That can protect you from fraudulent credit applications, even if a criminal has key information such as your birthdate and Social Security number.
- A freeze blocks access to your credit reports, protecting against scammers’ attempts to open fraudulent accounts.
- You have to contact each of the three credit bureaus individually.
- Placing a credit freeze is free for you and your children, as is lifting it when you want to apply for new credit.
- A freeze does not affect your credit score.
How A Credit Freeze Works
A credit freeze protects you by blocking access to your credit reports. When someone applies for credit using your personal information, a lender or card issuer typically checks your credit before making a decision.
If your credit is frozen, the potential creditor cannot see the data required to approve the application.
You can use a PIN or password to unfreeze your credit when you need it.
How To Freeze Your Credit
Contact each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — individually to freeze your credit:
- Equifax: Call 800-349-9960 or go online. Check out our step-by-step Equifax credit freeze guide.
- Experian: Call 888‑397‑3742 or go online. Here’s a detailed walk-through on getting an Experian credit freeze.
- TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or go online. Read our TransUnion credit freeze guide.
You can also freeze your credit report at two lesser-known credit bureaus that may have information about you:
- Innovis: Call 800-540-2505 or go online.
- National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange: Call 866-343-2821 or go online.
Generally, you need to provide your Social Security number, birthdate and other information confirming your identity.
Once a credit freeze is in place, it secures your credit file until you lift the freeze. You can unfreeze credit temporarily when you want to apply for new credit.
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