By opting for a credit freeze, consumers can put a block on their credit file, in order to prevent identity theft. This is done if some of your vital information has leaked and you feel threatened. A credit freeze will prevent criminals and fraudsters from opening new lines of credit.
What will be the impact of a credit freeze?
Any new creditors, employers, and landlords will not have access to your credit report, if you put a credit freeze in place. They will simply receive a message or a code that indicates that the account has been frozen, when they try to access your file. This will stop most creditors to extend any new credit, as they won’t have access to your credit report, thereby protecting you from further identity theft.
An identity theft can cause countless problems for a consumer. Thus, sometimes canceling a credit card or closing a checking account simply isn’t enough to prevent fraud. In order to ensure that no new lines of credit are opened in your name, a credit freeze is a good way to make sure.
Charges for a Credit freeze
Consumers who have a police report that can be documented to show recent abuse to their credit profile can get a credit freeze for free. But if you simply want to freeze your credit profile without documentation, you will have to pay a small fee. Different states charge different fee.
In California, if you aren’t a victim of credit fraud, you will be charged a credit freeze fee of $10. This happens if you fail to provide documentation. Every credit bureau charges $10 exclusively, so the total cost will be $30.
It is important to block all three bureaus as blocking either one or two credit bureaus would do little to protect your identity, if the third allowed creditors to view your credit report.
How to execute a credit freeze
In order to execute a credit freeze, you will have to write to the individual credit bureaus at the addresses given below. Make sure that you send the letter by certified mail, and contact the individual creditor first to find out what information they need from you to execute such a freeze, including payment details.
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P. O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Security Freeze
P. O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
If you’re married, the bureaus will require both you and your spouse to send separate letters and payments to place a freeze on both accounts.
How long do credit bureaus take to execute the credit freeze?
Credit bureaus will take around five business days to place the freeze on your account, after they receive your letter. You’ll receive a PIN number from the creditors, after they block your file, which you’ll need to keep handy to lift a freeze in the future.
You‘l have the option of lifting a freeze temporarily or permanently, on one all accounts. The associated fees will vary. You can lift a credit freeze by phone, by using your PIN number. The credit bureaus will take around three business days, after receiving your phone request, to lift the freeze.
A credit freeze will not allow any new creditors to view your credit score or credit report, and a credit freeze will not lower your credit score. You can also order a copy of your own credit report even if your account has been frozen.
But do keep in mind that existing creditors, collection agencies working on their behalf, and government agencies can still access your credit report.
A simply fraud alert may not be enough to fully protect your credit profile. A credit freeze is a good way to make sure that further identity theft doesn’t take place.
It can also prevent damage to your credit score. You should definitely go for it in case you have a threat of fraud, but keep in mind that it may be frustrating if you need to open a new line of credit, such as a new cell phone plan, insurance policy, credit card, auto lease, or a mortgage, which will be difficult to do with a freeze on.