If you are concerned about identity theft, or the possibility that someone can access your credit report without your authorization, you might consider placing a credit freeze on your report.
What is a credit freeze?
Also known as freezing or security blocking, this free tool allows you to restrict access to your credit report, and at the same time, it makes it harder for identity thieves to open accounts under your name. This is because before approving the opening of a new account, most credit grantors need to view your credit report. If they can’t see your file, they may not extend the credit.
Does a credit freeze affect my credit score?
No. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score.
In addition, a credit freeze:
- It does not prevent you from accessing your free annual credit report.
- It does not prevent you from opening a new account, submitting a job application, renting an apartment, or buying insurance. To do any of these things, you will have to temporarily cancel the freeze, either for a specific time or for a particular person, for example, a potential owner or employer. It is free to cancel a credit freeze are variable and it is free to place it again after you no longer need access to your credit report.
- It does not prevent a thief from charging your existing accounts. You will still have to continue monitoring all the summaries of your bank account, credit card and insurance to check if no fraudulent transactions have been registered.
Will I stop receiving pre-approved credit offers if I place a credit freeze?
This phone line and website are operated by the country’s credit reporting companies. You can choose not to receive them for five years or opt out of receiving them permanently, in English, this voluntary exclusion is called “opt-out”. However, some companies send offers that are not based on pre-approval or pre-selection, and the exercise of their right of voluntary exclusion will not stop this type of offer.
When considering your voluntary exclusion, it is good that you know that pre-approved offers can provide you with several benefits, especially if you are looking for a credit card or an insurance policy. Pre-approved offers can help you know what options are available, compare costs, and find the product that best suits your needs. As you have already preselected to receive that product, you can only deny it under some limited circumstances. In addition, the terms of the pre-approved offers may be more favorable than the terms available to the general public. In fact, some credit cards or insurance policies may only be available through the pre-approval or pre-selection mechanism.
Can anyone see my credit report while it is frozen?
Some entities may continue to access your report.
- Your current creditors or debt collectors acting on behalf of your creditors can access a copy of your credit report.
- Government agencies may have access to your report in response to a court or administrative order, a subpoena or a search warrant.
How do I place a freeze or lock on my credit report?
After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will give you a PIN, or personal identification number, or a password for your exclusive use. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to cancel the freeze.You will have to provide your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.
How do I cancel a credit freeze?
A credit freeze remains in effect until you request the credit reporting company to temporarily lift it or to permanently eliminate it. If you request online or by phone to cancel your credit freeze, the credit reporting company must cancel it within one hour. If you request to be canceled by mail, the credit reporting company must cancel it within three days of receiving your letter.
If you choose to request a temporary survey because you are submitting a loan or employment application, and you can find out which credit reporting company will request your report, you can save time by canceling the freeze only at that particular reporting company. If not, you will have to request cancellation from the three credit reporting companies.
What is the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?
A credit freeze blocks access to your credit report. Fraud alerts allow credit grantors to obtain a copy of their credit report on condition that they take the necessary steps to verify their identity. For example, if you give your phone number to a business, the business can call you to see if you are the person making the credit application. Fraud alerts can be effective in stopping someone who wants to open new credit accounts under their name, but may not serve to prevent improper use of their existing accounts. You will still have to continue monitoring all the summaries of your bank account, credit card and insurance to check if no fraudulent transactions have been registered.
There are three types of fraud alerts.
- Fraud Alert If you are worried about identity theft, but you are not yet a victim of this crime, this fraud alert will protect you from unverified access to your credit report for one year. You should place a fraud alert if your wallet, Social Security card or other financial information or account information was lost or stolen.
- Prolonged fraud alerts. A prolonged fraud alert will protect the credit of victims of identity theft for seven years.
- Alerts for active duty military personnel. Members of the armed forces who are on duty and who wish to protect their credit while away from their homes can place this fraud alert that lasts one year.
To place a fraud alert on your credit report, contact one of the three credit reporting companies in the country. The procedure to place a fraud alert is free. You must provide proof of identity. The company you call should inform the other credit reporting companies, which, in turn, will place an alert on their own versions of your credit report.