How to avoid identity theft in a few easy steps
Hi all, some “building block” information on credit: There are three bureaus; 1.)Experian, 2.)Equifax, and 3.)TransUnion. You actually have 3 separate credit scores; one score with each bureau. When you apply for credit in the form of a credit card, or a loan for anything from a house to furniture, the lending institution will “pull” (check) your credit score. By doing that, the lender will assess whether or not they will be willing to loan the money to you. Your credit score indicates the risk you will present to them as a borrower.
Credit is MUCH easier to tear down than to build up, so it is much better to avoid any “dings” on your credit, if at all possible. Freezing your credit will make it IMPOSSIBLE for credit to be opened in your name! Continue reading below for directions on how to freeze all three of your bureaus!
What is a credit freeze, and what does it do for me?
A credit freeze will allow you to basically block your credit reports from view. For example, if someone acquires your personal information and tries to open a credit card, or obtain a loan in your name, the lender will see the freeze on your bureaus, and will be unable to see your actual scores. Without that information, no lender will give money in your name!
What if someone gets my personal information and tries to obtain a credit card, get a loan, etc?
With the freeze in place, your credit scores are not able to be seen by anyone who inquires (runs a credit check) with your personal information. Without those scores, lenders will NOT open accounts or lend money!
Well great, but what if I need to get a loan or credit card?
Fair question! Each bureau will give you a PIN number when you place the freeze. DO NOT LOSE THESE PIN NUMBERS. They are what allow you to “lift” the freeze on your credit so that you may borrow money when, AND ONLY WHEN you AND ONLY YOU need the money! (Sounds complicated, but really it’s not……once the freezes are in place, it’s easy sailing!)
**You can lift the freeze on your credit score for as long as you’d like it to remain lifted. For example, if you wanted it to be lifted until a certain date, you can do that! If you’d like it to be lifted for a certain length of time, you can do that as well! Schedule the lift date, and the duration for which you would like it to remain lifted. After that period of time, the freeze will automatically be reinstated.
So, is there a time where you should NOT freeze your credit?
If your credit reports are accessed often for work or because you create new accounts with various financial institutions on a regular basis, it is not suggested that you freeze your accounts. The costs to continually lift the freeze could become excessive.
Ok, so how do I get the freezes in place?
*Each state has the option to charge you to place a credit freeze, and each bureau could be a separate fee.The cost ranges from $0-$10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report; a couple of states have higher fees.
The cost to "thaw" your reports for one creditor -- or for a specific period of time -- range from being free to $10.
EQUIFAX CREDIT FREEZE – [http://www.equifax.com/home/en_us]
Credit freezes may be done online or by certified mail - return receipt requested.
The quickest and easiest way to set a freeze is online. They will ask you to create an account (for free), and the PIN will be sent to you in the mail. KEEP THIS PIN NUMBER! You will need it to lift the freeze, should you need to.
If you haven’t gotten your PIN within 2 weeks of setting the freeze, call 1-888-298-0045. They will ask you for some ID and arrange for your PIN to be sent to you in 4-7 days.
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Equifax credit freeze by snail mail, online, or by calling 1-800-272-9281.
EXPERIAN CREDIT FREEZE – [https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html]
Credit freezes may be done online or by certified mail - return receipt requested. Experian will also give you a PIN number. KEEP IT!! You will need it again to lift the freeze.
You can also freeze a child's credit report. To freeze a child's credit report, you will first need to write a letter to each bureau to learn if your minor child has a credit report and if so, then you can proceed to freeze it.
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Experian credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-397-3742.
TRANSUNION CREDIT FREEZE – [http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-freezes.page]
Credit freezes may be done online, by phone (1-888-909-8872) or by certified mail - return receipt requested. (Some users have reported difficulty with the online method. Please try one of the other options if you too experience difficulty.)
Again, TransUnion will also give you a PIN number, DO NOT LOSE IT! If you lose the PIN for any of the bureaus, it is a real pain to get in touch with customer service to recover your lost PIN!!
Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your TransUnion credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-909-8872.