facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
How to Freeze Your Credit Report Thumbnail

How to Freeze Your Credit Report

By Carolanne Chavanne, CFP®

In an era dominated by digital transactions and online financial activities, protecting your personal information is more crucial than ever. If you suspect that your personal information or identity was stolen, freezing your credit is one way to protect yourself, as it restricts access to your credit report.

Here, we will delve into the reasons for freezing your credit, how to freeze your credit and the benefits of this powerful financial safeguard.

Understanding Credit Freezes

A credit freeze is a precautionary measure that restricts access to your credit report.1 This means that potential lenders or creditors cannot view your credit history, making it significantly harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

Reasons to Freeze Your Credit

A credit freeze is not something people do all the time, so you may be wondering when you might consider it. Here are the top reasons people freeze their credit:

Preventing Identity Theft
Identity theft is a pervasive issue in the digital age. Freezing your credit provides an additional layer of protection, making it difficult for criminals to open new accounts or lines of credit using your personal information.

Data Breach Response
If you have been a victim of a data breach, where your personal information may have been compromised, freezing your credit is a proactive measure to mitigate potential damage. It ensures that even if your data falls into the wrong hands, unauthorized individuals will not be able to exploit these to obtain credit in your name.

Protecting Your Children's Credit
Children are increasingly becoming targets for identity theft.2 By freezing their credit until they are old enough to use it responsibly, you can prevent criminals from exploiting your children’s clean credit history.

Peace of Mind During Financial Hardships
During times of financial strain, such as job loss or economic downturns, freezing your credit can be a preemptive measure. It ensures that even if your financial situation is compromised, your credit remains secure.

How to Freeze Your Credit

To initiate a credit freeze, you must contact each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can request a credit freeze online, by phone, or by mail. Provide your personal information, including your full name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.

Here is the information for each credit bureau:3

  • Equifax: Call 800-349-9960 or go online
  • Experian: Go online to initiate, or for information call 888‑397‑3742
  • TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or go online

Benefits of Freezing Your Credit

The primary benefit of freezing your credit is the heightened security it provides. It acts as a powerful deterrent against identity theft and unauthorized access to your financial information.

With a credit freeze in place, you have greater control over who can access your credit report. This can be particularly beneficial during times when you are not actively seeking new credit. In addition, knowing that your credit is secure can provide peace of mind.

Who Can Access Frozen Credit Reports?

When you freeze your credit, access to your credit report is restricted, but certain entities can still access your credit report.

First, you, as the consumer, can access your own credit report even when it is frozen. In addition, creditors with whom you maintain existing relationships, such as credit card issuers or lenders, retain the ability to access your credit report.

Debt collectors pursuing outstanding debts may also access your frozen credit report for collection purposes.

Government agencies—under specific circumstances such as court-ordered judgments, tax-related matters, or investigations—are authorized to view your frozen credit report.

Furthermore, insurance companies reviewing your risk profile for insurance applications as well as employers in states where it is permissible, may have access to your credit report with your explicit consent.

Freezing your credit is a robust and effective method to protect yourself from identity theft and financial fraud. By understanding its process and benefits, you empower yourself to make informed decisions about the security of your credit information.

  1. https://www.usa.gov/credit-freeze
  2. https://www.identityforce.com/personal/child-identity-theft#
  3. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/how-to-freeze-credit

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.