How To Freeze Your Credit Report To Prevent Identity Theft

by Hank Coleman

How To Freeze Your Credit ReportYour credit score is one of the keys to your personal finances. Companies use it to determine what interest you will pay, if you are even qualified for a loan, use it to make hiring decisions, and even use it in determining how much your car insurance premium will be.

Certain events could make you want to take action to freeze your credit score like being the victim of identity theft. Here is a step-by-step way to freeze your credit score to help you protect it.

Why You Should Freeze Your Credit Report

Freezing your credit scores is not a decision you should take lightly. If you believe your identity could have been stolen, you should consider a credit freeze to help you protect your credit score from further damage. By freezing your credit score, you prevent others from accessing your credit, opening new accounts, taking out loans, and taking other actions that can harm your credit score.

What Is A Credit Freeze?

When you freeze your score, you will prevent changes to your credit report. A credit freeze can even delay basic actions such as credit inquires that you start or new lines of credit that you request. That is why you should only freeze your credit score if you need to (although you can get a pin so you can personally access your scores if you need to).

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However, because of this credit freeze, criminals will not be able to open new accounts using your information because your credit reports will be locked preventing new credit from being established in your name.

How To Freeze Your Credit Report

Here is how to freeze your credit report. Every state has different requirements for freezing your credit. Currently forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have credit freeze laws in effect.

However, the three main credit bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) offer a credit freeze voluntarily to victims of identity theft at their request. In order to effectively prevent access to your accounts, you do need to request a security freeze at all three credit bureaus. What’s your FICO® Score? Find out now for $1 with enrollment in Experian Credit TrackerSM!How To Freeze Your Credit Report 90% of top lenders use FICO® Scores.

While it varies from state to state, here are some basics you must provide. You must provide sufficient information to verify your identity including name, Social Security number, address, current and previous addresses, date of birth, at least one government issued ID, and one copy of a utility bill that shows your name and address.

There may be a fee to freeze your credit report, but it varies from state to state and is usually free for victims of identity theft. To show you are a victim of identity theft, you must usually submit a valid incident or investigation report from your local law enforcement agency. Make sure that you check your state’s laws for more specifics.

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How To Freeze Your Credit Report To Prevent Identity Theft
How To Freeze Your Credit Report To Prevent Identity Theft

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 589 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric J. Nisall - DollarVersity

If I remember correctly here can be a fee to not only freeze the first time, but to unfreeze each time one is needed.

My parents were the victims of id theft back in the late 90’s and had frozen their accounts with the credit bureaus. It worked pretty well, except in some instances where they had tried to pay with a check and the credit bureau would call to find out if it was really them which became a bit of a hassle. Overall it worked out well, as they never had any issues with the situation going forward.

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Hank

That’s a great point about a fee to unfreeze your credit report as well. Well worth the effort and potential discomfort that it may take though.

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Monica

Good information on how to freeze your credit report. We have had an account hacked and had to do this as a temporary measure, but fortunately we were able to get it cleared up quickly. I can’t imagine having your identity stolen and the effect it would have on your life.

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Hank

I am the same with a temporary problem. But, I think that I may leave the freeze on there for a good long while.

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Marie at FamilyMoneyValues

This is good info. I guess thieves will always find new ways to make an honest person’s life harder – and identity theft sure does. Punishment should be jail time served plus payback of all money stolen and an apology in writing to all affected!!

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Thomas Jensen

Great information – if you freeze your credit report can you still use your credit cards and other credit lines? Does a freeze affect your score at all?

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Hank

don’t think that the freeze itself has any affect on your credit score. Any damage would come from the fraud that has already been done to your credit in the first place if any fraud occured and not from the freeze itself. So, it may look like the timing is very close to a drop in your score, but the fraud is the cause and not the freeze.

With a credit freeze, you can still use your loans and credit cards, but you cannot open new accounts unless you tell the credit bureaus that you are doing so. When there is a new requests for new loans or credit, the credit bureaus will not release your credit report to the requester if you have a freeze in place (unless you tell them otherwise) which in effect blocks new credit from being issued.

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Michelle

It was very easy for me to freeze my credit report when my wallet was stolen. It was a matter of a phone call, and the representative said it was across the board that it went to all three credit report bureaus so you didn’t have to call all three.

Reply

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