Before, the only theft case people knew about was house robbery or street mugging. While these were harmful, at least you got to see, touch or hear the thief. But now, identity theft is booming, and the worst part is that you only realize it after the damage.
Despite the growth of technology security features, identity theft advances in parallel. According to a study, nearly 15 million Americans fall victim to identity theft yearly. This equals billions of funds lost mainly through debit card fraud. But a credit card freeze can help.
Do you want to learn how to freeze your credit? It doesn’t matter if the criminal has your Social Security number and birthdate. Freezing your credit card protects sensitive data from unauthorized access. Let’s explore more about freezing your credit card below.
What Is A Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze is when you remove a collection account from the credit report and block every access point. This helps mainly to protect against scammers who want to open fraudulent accounts.
When someone accesses your private financial information and tries to apply for a credit card, the lender has to check your information first. If you freeze your credit, the potential lender cannot see any necessary data for credit approval.
Therefore, the fraud application doesn’t go through as planned. That’s where a credit freeze comes in handy.
Does a Credit Freeze Affect Your Credit Score?
Fortunately, freezing your credit will not affect your credit score. This implies that you can still qualify for a loan even though it’ll limit the lender’s evaluation process of your credit application.
Unless you unfreeze your credit before applying for a loan, the creditor can’t access your credit report to qualify your loan application. Ultimately, it could delay the application process.
While credit freezing doesn’t affect your credit score, keeping your credit report safe plays a significant role in your score. You can build or maintain the perfect credit score possible. Great credit scores are essential for anyone looking to apply and get a better loan without any delays or limitations.
So how do you improve your credit score?
A reliable and excellent approach is to hire a top-rated credit repair company. These experts will take you through the credit repair process to help you quickly achieve the perfect and most desired 850 credit score. Even better, most of them offer cheap credit repair. This excellent credit score allows you to qualify for any loan you want or even get a higher limit on your credit card.
But, why specifically an 850 credit score?
Usually, 850 is the highest credit score model used by the FICO formula, ranging from 300 to 850. In most cases, it’s only a dream to get to it. But now, hiring credit repair professionals will help you attain the unattainable. Besides, the benefits of excellent credit scores are numerous and you wouldn’t wish for a credit freeze to affect you in any way.
So, you can still freeze and remove the collection account from the credit report and not fear any effect on your credit score. Let’s learn the correct way of requesting a credit freeze below.
How to Freeze Your Credit
The credit bureaus will help you achieve a credit freeze. You can reach the bureaus online through their official websites, or call using the phone numbers below. But, the online process is more convenient and quicker than calling.
- Equifax: Phone number 1-800-685-1111
- Experian: Phone number 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: Phone number 1-888-909-8872
After confirming your identity to the bureau, they’ll send you a secret PIN you need to keep safe. You’ll need this PIN to unfreeze your credit each time you want a loan or credit repair. Talking to the significant credit bureaus personally is essential to freeze and unfreezing your credit report.
Even though you’ve frozen your credit, it would help to request a credit report after every 6 months. Usually, the credit report is free. It helps you verify that your credit file is accurate, as intended. Sometimes, companies make an error in reporting a punctual payment as a late payment. Besides, freezing your credit isn’t enough to monitor your credit report regularly.
You should also know that freezing your credit takes time. However, ensure that your details are safe until further notice.
Additionally, you cannot do any debit transactions with your frozen account. When you freeze your credit, making any purchases, withdrawals, or transfers is impossible. However, you can still make deposits and transfers to your account.
Why Freeze Your Credit?
A credit freeze helps to avoid financial fraud by denying access to scammers into your account. If by bad luck, your personal credit information falls into malicious hands, scammers wouldn’t spare you a penny.
Aside from sweeping your account clean, freezing your credit also helps to prevent scammers from creating fake accounts in your name. A fake account with your details would do more damage to your credit score, especially if the scammer applies for huge loans.
Additionally, you can still choose to freeze your credit as a precaution. This works best for anyone who transacts online frequently and has no other account. But it helps to know that you must unfreeze your credit before using your credit report for other plans.
A frozen credit is not dormant. You still need to build your credit score and pay your bills on time with your existing accounts.
When Should You Freeze Your Credit Card?
As a victim of identity theft, you undoubtedly know how wrecking it can be. Luckily, you have several options for protecting your credit. A security or fraud alert will inform you anytime someone tries to access your credit report. As the saying goes, ‘better safe than sorry.’
When you install a fraud alert on your credit report, ensure you add a valid phone number that lenders can use to contact you every time they get an application request. This will help verify if it’s you or not.
Thus, you should consider freezing your credit if;
- You get mysterious bills or receive notices mailed to you in your name or a different name.
- Unrecognizable activities appear on your credit report showing transactions or requests between your lender and other companies.
- You get a notification from your bank about fraud on your account.
- You receive notice that you are or could be a data breach target.
How to Unfreeze Your Credit
The same way you contacted the credit bureau about freezing your credit is how you’ll talk to them to unfreeze it. Do you still have the secret PIN you got when freezing your credit? You’ll give that number to the agents at the credit bureau to unfreeze your report. Still, you can unfreeze your credit temporarily if you need a quick credit check.
Unfreezing your credit doesn’t have a defined time limit. It could take seconds or several days for your lenders to re-access your credit report. The constant reaching out to the bureau to thaw your credit report each time someone wants access can be stressful. But, it’s less painful than when someone wipes out all your savings and even applies for a mortgage in your name.
Tip: If your lender or employer needs to access your credit report, it helps to ask them which credit bureau they’ll use. This will save you the time and effort of contacting all the 3 major credit bureaus.
Credit Freeze vs Credit Lock; What’s the Difference?
Credit freezing is free and doesn’t benefit the credit bureaus in any way. Instead, these bureaus came up with credit locks as a paid way of protecting your credit report.
Because you’re paying for it, the bureaus make it straightforward to freeze and unfreeze your credit. This is attained by touching a button on your phone. While it may sound convenient, don’t rush for it.
Credit locks offer less protection because the government doesn’t regulate them like credit freezes. This means that even your bureau can access your credit report without your permission. So, you’re better off with the free and tedious credit freeze process.
Freezing your credit is not only free but also effective. It helps give thieves a hard time accessing your credit or other financial reports in your name. In most cases, freezing your credit reduces your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.
However, freezing and unfreezing your credit can be a hustle whenever you need a credit check from the 3 bureaus. Hence, it would help to be sure that you want to make the move.