While there isn’t one silver bullet to protect yourself from identity theft freezing your credit reports with a security freeze is an excellent and inexpensive way to limit your potential losses. In essence it puts a hold on your credit file so that you can’t add any additional credit lines without unfreezing the account first. This is the same method that’s used when you call in a fraud alert but is a more permanent solution. While this might be an extreme move for some, a little hassle can provide a lot of protection. This will stop the would be thief from snagging one of your pre-approved credit card offers, changing the address and opening a card in your name. We’ll cover what to look out for and how exactly to put a security freeze in place on all of your credit bureaus.
What a Security Freeze on Your Credit Will Do For You
A security freeze will prevent the release of information from your credit report to a requesting agency meaning that an evildoer won’t be able to open a credit line in your name. Bear in mind this also means that it will stop any valid attempt made by you as well unless you lift the freeze. So things like getting a new cell phone, turning on the electricity in a new location might be impacted by the freeze. You’ll need to make arrangements to lift the freeze before requesting additional credit. Fortunately the three credit agencies also provide that service for rapid turnaround but it does depend on the state you live in.
What a Security Freeze on Your Credit Won’t Do
Any existing line of credit will not be impacted by the credit freeze. So you can go about your business with your credit cards but the credit freeze will not protect those accounts. It will only stop new accounts from being created. Also a security freeze won’t stop you from being able to pull your credit report or credit score
. One final thing to watch you for is that depending on your insurance companies they might check your credit score yearly at renewal time to determine your rates at which time you might need to unfreeze your report so that they can be available for your agency. This is not a universal and can vary from each company.
You’ll have to put a credit freeze in place at each of the three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Transunion and Equifax. We’ll cover each one in detail.
How to Put a Security Freeze In Place with Experian
Visit Experian at their Security Freeze Center where you can enter your personal info, create a 10 digit pin and put your credit freeze in place. The cost is anywhere from $5 to $10 depending on which state you live in. This is also the same place that you can thaw your credit report for a set amount of time.
How to Put a Security Freeze in Place with Equifax
Equifax provides an online solution to putting your credit freeze in place here. Once again the fees for placing and removing a freeze are dependent on your state but they range from $5 to $10.
How to Put a Security Freeze in Place with TransUnion
Visit the TransUnion landing page for access to their online registration. Again the fees range from $5 to $10 depending on your state.
Special Notice for Identity Theft Victims or Seniors
Almost universally if you are the victim of identity theft you can freeze your accounts for free by providing the reporting agencies a copy of the police report. Seniors as well (generally over the age of 65) can get a reduced or free security freeze.
This is really the deadbolt of identity protection so if you really want to protect yourself from would be thieves this is a great place to start.
(Photo Courtesy evoo73)