Did you know that you can freeze your credit? Credit freezes are an important precaution against identity theft. Here’s a look at what credit freezes are and 5 specific reasons to freeze your credit.
What Is a Credit Freeze
Credit freezes can be performed at the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian). They prevent your credit score/profile from being used to establish new accounts. Think of when you applied for new credit cards or loans in the past. The lender would have pulled your credit to check your score before approving the account. A credit freeze disrupts this process for anyone attempting to apply for such accounts using your social security number.
Since it relates solely to your credit scores, it does not impact any existing credit or debit cards that you may use on a daily basis. To freeze your credit, visit the websites for each of the 3 major credit bureaus:
Reasons to Freeze Your Credit
1 – Your Information Was Included in a Security Breach
Every year, there are instances of security breaches. If you were notified that your account or information may have been compromised in a breach, you may want to freeze your credit.
2 – You Lost Personal Information
If your identification or paperwork with personal information was lost or stolen, someone could use that to steal your identity. Freezing your credit is a good measure to prevent new credit accounts from being established in your name.
3 – You Are Aware of an Attempt to Steal Identity
Sometimes identity thieves have some of personal information, but not all of it. They may attempt to open accounts in your name but were rejected for partial or inaccurate information. You may still be notified by the financial institution of this rejection, which is a red flag that an attempt was made. This should prompt you to immediately freeze your credit to block any future attempts.
4 – You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
If you know for a fact that someone has established an account in your name, you should freeze your credit right away. After a successful attempt, identity thieves will likely create additional accounts using that same information. You will want to block these and then work on addressing the falsely created accounts.
5 – You’re an Overly Cautious Person
If none of the above apply to you, you may still want to freeze your credit out of an abundance of caution. You don’t necessarily need reasons to freeze your credit. It’s a good practice to keep your credit profile safe. You can always unfreeze your credit when you need to use it yourself.
Things Not Covered by Credit Freezes
It is important to note that freezing your credit does not protect your from everything. It only stops would-be identity thieves from establishing accounts where a credit score is necessary. This includes credit cards, debit cards, car loans, mortgages, etc. It’s still possible for someone to use your identity in other ways, such as applying for apartments, purchasing cell phones, or even committing crimes. It may not be possible to stop all types of identity theft, but freezing your credit can at least help with preventing certain debts from being incurred in your name.