How to freeze and unfreeze your credit

Freezing your credit:

If a company has ever contacted you warning of a data breach to their systems affecting your personal information they have on file, or if you have had your wallet or credit cards stolen or lost, you may want to consider freezing your credit.

Cybercriminals can access your social security number, date of birth, past and current addresses, and potentially even your driver’s license number if they get ahold of your credit report or other personal information.

By freezing your credit, you are creating a safeguard against anyone who may obtain your credit report without your consent. With a credit freeze, you can restrict access to your report, making it difficult for identity thieves to open any new accounts under your name. 

By federal law, you can freeze your credit record for free at the three nationwide credit reporting companies- Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

Placing a freeze will NOT affect your credit score.

The links below have a walkthrough for freezing your score at each of the reporting bureaus:

Transunion
By logging in or filling out a brief form with your personal information, Transunion allows consumers to freeze their credit, open a dispute, or amend incorrect information on their report.
Customer support is available all days of the week by phone or online.
888-909-8872

Equifax
The bureau requires a short form with personal info, including social security number and current address, and creating an account login.
Equifax has a customer service call center operating weekdays and weekends, and a robust FAQ page regarding a variety of credit topics.
800-685-1111

Experian
By filling out a short form of personal information and creating a PIN, consumers may freeze their credit or grant temporary access to creditors on the Experian site.
Experian has a full service contact center, as well as resources for identity theft protection and victims of identity theft.
888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

All three bureaus offer fraud alert protection on your accounts to monitor for future infractions.

Unfreezing your credit:

Once you’re in the clear, or if you want to apply for any kind of credit or a mortgage, you will need to unfreeze your credit.

The credit freeze you have placed remains until you ask the credit bureaus to temporarily lift it or remove it, and the process is similar to freezing your credit, accessible through the same contact info listed above. If your request is made online or by phone, a credit bureau must lift a freeze within one hour, and if the request is made by mail, then the bureau must lift the freeze within three business days.

Keep in mind a criminal can still use your bank account or cards until you have alerted your bank or credit union, so monitor your accounts and stay vigilant.

 

If you have questions about how a credit freeze may affect your mortgage application, contact an expert at Accunet today.