A credit freeze is designed to prevent your sensitive data in your credit files from being accessed without your consent. Credit freezes protect you against fraudulent credit applications, even if somebody has your social security number and other personal information. Placing a credit freeze is completely free, as is reversing it when you want to apply for new credit. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score at all, but the freeze will need to be reversed when you eventually decide to.
In 2018, the personal information of approximately 300 million people who stayed at a Starwood hotel were accessed in a major data breach. Marriott, which had recently acquired Starwood, said that the guest reservation database had been compromised, and the hacking may have been ongoing since 2014. Despite this horrible hack, the good news is that security solutions are available today, such as credit freezing, which would allow you to have peace of mind in future situations like this.
A credit freeze protects you by blocking all access to your credit reports. When somebody applies for credit using your account, a lender or card issuer will check your credit; And if your credit is frozen the potential creditor cannot see the information required to approve the application. Parents and guardians can also freeze the credit of a child under the age of 16. If you do request a freeze for your child, the credit bureau must create a credit file before freezing it.
In order to freeze your credit, you should contact all three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You will be asked questions in order to verify your identity (PIN, Birthdate, SSN, Email). Once the credit freeze is in place, your credit file is secured until the freeze is lifted. If you think your data may be compromised, get a credit freeze just to be safe. Most credit freezes & freeze removals occur in real time, which means that they are activated within an hour of your request.
To unfreeze your credit, go to the credit bureau websites, use your PIN or password to log in, and select to unfreeze your credit. You can also choose to unfreeze for a specified time period, after which the freeze automatically resumes.
It is always a good idea to play on the side of caution when it comes to your credit. If you are concerned about data breaches of your account or just want to be proactive in protecting yourself, a credit freeze could be the correct option.
See the links below to apply a credit freeze from one of the 3 major credit bureaus: