Did you know that freezing your credit is one of the best ways to protect your identity? So many people skip credit freezes because they’re worried that it’ll be difficult to un-freeze it if they need it. The truth is, un-freezing your credit is a relatively straightforward process, and it has additional benefits - like forcing you to hit “pause” before making a major financial decision that requires a credit check.
The good news is that freezing your credit is an easy “to do” that you can check off your list in an hour or less. Ready to get started? Here’s your quick-start guide.
First and foremost, you need to know each of the three credit reporting bureaus so that you can freeze your credit with all three. They are:
To freeze your credit, you have to contact each of the credit reporting bureaus to request a credit freeze. They all have online portals that allow you to go through this process quickly and easily - but you can also call, or in some cases, request a credit freeze vial mail if you prefer.
To freeze your credit through Equifax, you create a myEquifax account on their website, and place, lift, or permanently remove your freeze through your online portal. You can also call them at their automated credit freeze service line: (800) 349-9960.
Experian has a section of their website specifically dedicated to security freezes. Through their website, you can add a security freeze, remove or lift a security freeze, retrieve your PIN, and grant a creditor one-time access to your file.
TransUnion offers credit freeze help on their website, and through their mobile app. You can also add a freeze by phone or physical mail - if those are more convenient options for you. Their phone number is 888-909-8872. Their mailing address is:
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Did you know that data breaches have grown exponentially year after year since 2015? In 2017 alone, consumers dealt with $905 million in total fraud losses - yikes!
Freezing your credit dramatically reduces your risk of identity theft - and to protect you against fraudulent charges to your credit card, or new accounts being opened in your name. New “lenders” posing as you can’t access your credit report while the freeze is in place. All credit freezes are 100% free to you, the consumer, which makes it easier to commit to freezing your credit ASAP. Finally, credit freezes can be lifted or removed at any time.
So, if for some reason you decide the freeze isn’t working for you, you can “unfreeze” your credit with relative ease. However, it can take a short processing period of a day or two to “unfreeze” your credit - which can slow down credit checks for job opportunities, mortgage applications, or when you go to open a new line of credit. An easy way around this stumbling block is to make sure that you plan ahead for these things! Start “unfreezing” your credit a few days in advance of a new application going out, or grant a creditor or employer one-time access to your report.
Want help? Contact us today! We can walk you through how to freeze your credit - and other ways you can start to protect your finances against fraud.
Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.
"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.