For a lot of credit card holders, a credit freeze can be a great tool when you need it, so it’s helpful to know how to freeze your credit. A credit freeze helps limit access to your credit report, but it isn’t a complete shutdown. In fact, you can typically still access your credit report during a freeze. A freeze can help guard your credit report and prevent others from opening a new credit account in your name.
Why would you freeze your credit?
To get started, let’s understand why you might want to freeze your credit in the first place. A credit freeze may be called for in cases of identity theft or fraud. That’s because credit freezing can help stop an account breach in its tracks. There are two situations when a credit freeze may assist you most. First, if you know someone stole your identity. Second, if you notice there’s been fraudulent activity on your credit or bank accounts.
How to freeze your credit in 3 steps
There are three steps to take to freeze your credit if you suspect your identity has been compromised.
- Locate written evidence of identity theft or fraud.
- Gather the items you’ll likely need for the credit freeze including:
- Social security number
- Birth date
- Valid ID such as a driver’s license or passport
- Tax documents, bank statements or utility bills
- Contact each credit bureau to request a credit freeze.
Can you freeze your credit online?
Yes, you can freeze your credit online, but you’ll need to contact all three credit bureaus: Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®, to do so. You can contact each bureau online or by phone.
What's the difference between credit freeze and credit lock?
Sometimes a credit freeze is confused with a credit lock. Yes, both restrict access to your credit report, but in different ways. A credit freeze works more like a sealed vault that is difficult to open and close. You will need to work with the credit bureaus and be aware the freeze may take some time to take effect. By comparison, a credit lock works more like a padlock that you can open and close easily. A credit lock can be done almost instantly through a secure website or smartphone app.
How to unfreeze your credit
At some point, you will likely want to unfreeze your credit. This involves recontacting each credit bureau to request the unfreeze.
Ways to help protect your credit
Security tools that may help protect your credit include multi-factor authentication and password protection for your accounts. You can also check your credit score and help protect your identity using a service like Credit Journey, which features credit monitoring alerts.
Knowing how to freeze your credit can be helpful if you ever think your credit or identity have been compromised. Freezing your credit can be done by working directly with the credit agencies. To help protect your credit and identity, you can use a tool like Credit Journey.