When to Freeze Your Credit Report and How to Do It

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How to Freeze Your Credit Report

How to Freeze Your Credit Report

At a time when identity theft is on the rise and people are concerned with how to protect themselves, it’s important to know the ins and outs of specific security measures. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to always have visibility into your information; this way you’re being proactive with your finances, rather than reactive.

Another way you can protect yourself is by heightening the level of security around your information. For example, did you know there’s a way to prevent someone from applying for a credit card or a loan in your name?

A credit freeze – also referred to as a security freeze - is something you can request from each credit bureau (Experian, Equifax and Transunion) to essentially seal your credit report.  This freeze makes your credit report inaccessible, unless you give specific authorization with a password or personal identification number. It’s like putting a padlock on your credit profile - and has been used by some as a method for identity protection.

Here’s a quick Q&A about what a credit freeze is and how you can apply for one or lift it.

What’s the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?

With a fraud alert, a notice is placed on your credit file requesting creditors to verify your identity before issuing any credit in your name. This usually involves a phone call.  A credit freeze, on the other hand, completely locks your credit file, preventing anyone from accessing it.

Is there a cost associated with putting a freeze on my report?

Yes, there is. It typically costs anywhere from $3 to $10, per bureau, to freeze your credit report. However, if you’ve recently been a victim of identity theft, you may be able to apply a freeze at no cost. The costs vary by state, so check your state’s guidelines first.

How will a credit freeze impact my credit report?

[Free Resource: Check your free credit report and score]

The good news is that a credit freeze protects you from someone accessing your credit report unless you give your consent. It also does not hurt your credit score in any way.

The bad news is a credit freeze can prevent YOU from having access to your own credit report. For example, if you want to access your totally free credit report and free credit score at Quizzle, you won’t be able to if you have a freeze on your file. You also won’t be able to open any retail credit cards or rent a car using a debit card (a credit card works fine).

Once my credit report is frozen, how do I lift it?

It varies for each bureau, but you typically have two options: You can temporarily lift the freeze (some sites refer to this as “thawing”) or permanently lift it:

  • Temporary lift– This method can be used when you need a third party to access your credit. A temporary lift typically lasts seven, 15 or 30 days.
  • Permanent lift – As you might guess, this means you would like your credit information to be available for third parties without time restrictions. This is beneficial for people who plan to have their credit pulled often or would like to check their own credit regularly.

There may also be costs associated with lifting the credit freeze, so double check your state’s fees. This will prevent you from incurring any costs unknowingly.

Here are links to all three bureaus for more info about credit freezes and online forms to set them up:

EXPERIAN

EQUIFAX

TRANSUNION

The bottom line

If you just had your identity stolen, a credit freeze is a good way to protect yourself. However, if you want to have free access to your credit at all times and also be able to monitor it, it may be better to hold off for the time being.

For more tips and tools to help you manage your home, money and credit – including the most affordable credit monitoring on the web and complete identity theft protection – visit Quizzle.com.

More from the Quizzle Wire:

  • virginia

    Our credit is being damaged by collection agencies trying to get us to pay bills we do not owe. I believe the only fraud that has occurred is the collection agencies. I have disputed some of the addresses attached to our name, but Experian will not remove them. I have disputed the bill we are supposed to owe on. I have told the collection agencies the above and asked for some sort of document that shows an account number, date, etc., and they just sell our account to someone else! How can I stop this madness?

  • Carol

    Who gave these people approval to gather informantion on all of us to begin with??? I sure don’t remember telling anyone they could take my personal information and charge inquirers to see it. Did I miss something somewhere??

  • Diane

    I agree with Carol. It upsets me that private companies can access personal info on us. And companies that can say we owe something, but we can’t find out who we owe it to. That’s what I’m going thru. I’ve called & left messages, emailed, etc. but never a answer. And the other was paid off thru a settlement & it’s still showing “co”. I’m trying to dispute 1 of them, but getting nowhere. Who is in control???

  • sue the collector

    contact F.T.C.gov/consumer contact your state attorney general and the attorney general of the state where the collection agency office is located, contact attorneys who sue collectors who violate the fair credit collection act. start complaining and keep complaining every week to your congressman/woman

  • DAVID

    I HEARD THAT IF A CREDITOR SELLS YOUR ACCOUNT THEN YOU REALLY HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THEM AS THE ORIGINAL DEBT WAS CHARGED OFF AT A LESSER PRICE TO ANOTHER COMPANY /INDIVIDUAL THEY TAKE THE RISK OF GETTING THEIR MONEY BACK,, TOO BAD FOR THEM WE AS AMERICANS NEED TO ADDRESS THIS SYSTEM OF SELLING OUR ACCOUNTS WITHOUT OUR KNOWLEGE, THANKS FOR LETTING ME RANT HAVE A GOOD DAY YALL

  • James

    I’m with Virgina, on this. I got my free credit report, noticed something that shouldnt be there. disputed it. a month later I get an email that said my credit score came down 50 points! a year ago I had a problem. this small island I live on gets snowed in, and the internet sometimes goes down. the satalite cant talk with the antana on the ground in 75+ miles an hour wind. so I was late with some payments. I’ve been paying on time since. my balances have come down alot in that year, my score aught to go up 100 points

  • Anyajenn

    Shortly after my divorce was finalized, I tried applying for a car loan in the amount of $4K to begin to establish credit in my “new” name. I was declined. I ran my 3 credit reports and learned that between the time I filed for divorce and within 2 weeks of the the actual divorce, the X applied for and received at least 3 credit cards and two bank loans (the most recent was exactly two weeks before the actual divorce). He has ZERO job (he got fired and incurred about $10K in medical debt after I filed; he now has SSDI), yet used my credit to access money. (One of the loans was to purchase a motorcycle, and afford to keep his van, truck, and car.)

    The judge instructed him to negotiate his medical debt and ordered him responsible for his debts. I am responsible for my debts–my school loans. Fiscally, the debts were divided fairly equally.

    I have a respectable job (and have paid off ALL our mutual and credit card debts between filing and the finalization), and now, MY credit is maxed out.

    HOW can I remove him from my credit record?

    Also, this happened in WI. According to state law, I was supposed to have been notified when my spouse applied for credit. I did not receive any such notice. What gives with that? What can be done about it? Can his debts be ‘recalled’? My atty had no answer for me.

    I really don’t care about punitive consequences for him. I just want my credit record back in MY name and my control!

  • Ron Hadfield

    I have negative information in my credit reports re: business
    transactions which occurred ten years ago; it was credit card debt.
    Will I be able to wipe this off the credit bureau reports because
    of the statute of limitations? I soon plan to relocate to another
    city and rent an apartment; but all landlords want to see and charge
    me for a credit report. I want to clean it up before that happens.
    Will appreciate your advice.
    ###

  • “OLD SOMEWHAT HANDSOME DUDE BUT HUMBLE “

    HEY THIS WAS A FANTASTIC WELL DONE ARTICLE…REALLY INFORMATIVE AND ACTUALLY FULL OF PROMISE WITH PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF THAT CAN USE GREAT ADVICE…THANK YOU VERY MUCH…”FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY WALLET”..LOL….TAKE CARE…..I’LL BE BACK “QUIZZLE ME DOOO” RESPECTIVELY O.H.D.B.H.

  • “OLD SOMEWHAT HANDSOME DUDE BUT HUMBLE “

    GREAT JOB ‘CATHERINE BUZZITTA’…FROM NOW ON I AM GOING TO TELL ALL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT YOOOOOO….”THE BUZZ”….ON QUIZZLE………….WATCH FOR THE “BUZZ” IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

  • Kelly

    Anyajenn, this might help

    “Divorce can be a tortuous affair, at best. However, it appears that it might just have got a whole lot worse.

    Recent research suggests that more and more ex spouses are seeking retribution by taking out joint credit cards, car hire and equipment leasing after divorce. By using the name of their ex spouse they can then indulge in reckless spending or cause untold damage to equipment that has been leased. It’s kind of like the financial equivalent of taking a pair scissors to a wardrobe of clothes!

    Often, only the true extent of the damage can be ascertained from your credit reference – obtained from the likes of Transunion, Experian and Equifax.

    Fortunately, the law can help expunge marks on your credit score.

    David Rubinger, spokesman for Equifax says “if your ex-spouse used your name and Social Security number to take out credit without your knowledge, that person has stolen your identity.” It doesn’t matter to a credit agency whether you have been the victim of credit fraud by a criminal, friend or ex spouse.

    The key to reclaiming your credit history back is to report the situation immediately to the credit company and the credit referencing agencies. They will require you to fill in a full report to the police on the matter.

    However, if you have a joint account that was created with your ex spouse before the divorce, then the situation is a little different

    Experian spokesman Rod Griffin says. “If you have a joint account, you’re considered fully responsible for that debt,” It is still possible to file a dispute with reporting agencies who have 30 days to investigate the situation.

    The common sense approach to this is to shut all joint accounts down when you divorce and be vigilant for a vengeful spouse looking to smear your credit record!”
    Tom Wilkins

  • mrb

    My sister and I were approved users of several credit cards in my mother’s name. When she died with a balance owed, the credit card companies put a black mark on my credit. Now one of the companies has written off the debt. Does this mean that I will have this on my credit as well? They will all be paid when my mother’s estate is settled and have been told this countless times.