Chances are pretty good that somewhere in the last few years, you heard about something called a credit freeze. It’s a way to, essentially, lock up your credit and report so that no one can access it. While putting your credit on ice, so to speak, has been free under federal law since 2018, many people have yet to actually do it, according to a December 2021 report from the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center. It’s meant to keep fraudsters away from your important data and it works, but there are other things you should understand before you do it.
The survey of 1,050 U.S. adults found that while three-quarters of respondents said they were familiar with the credit freeze process, fewer than one-third had ever frozen their credit and only 3% did so after learning about a data breach.
What freezing your credit means
A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report until you are ready to use it. That means you and anyone else won’t be able to open a new credit account with the freeze in place. You can temporarily ‘thaw’ the freeze if you want to apply for new credit.
When the freeze is in place, you will still be able to apply for a job, rent an apartment, or purchase insurance without lifting or removing it, notes the Federal Trade Commission.
How to place the freeze
Get in touch with the three largest credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Contacting them online is extremely convenient, but you can also call them. You can reach Equifax at (888) 298-0045, TransUnion at (888) 909-8872, and Experian at (888) 397-3742.
Check in on your credit reports
Don’t forget, you also have access to your credit score and full TransUnion credit report for free with Credit Score & More, safe and secure within C·U·D Online & Mobile Banking.