A credit freeze, otherwise known as a security freeze, is a tool that allows you to restrict access to your credit report. This makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name, as most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account.
Does a credit freeze affect credit score?
A credit freeze does not affect your credit score. Additionally, it does not prevent you from getting your annual credit report, keep you from opening a new account, buying insurance, applying for a job, or renting an apartment, or prevent a thief from making charges to existing accounts. As such, if you are opening a new account, buying insurance, applying for a job, or renting an apartment, you may need to lift your freeze temporarily. The cost and time it takes to do this varies. Furthermore, make sure you are monitoring your bank activity and credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent activity.
Can anyone else see your credit report if it is frozen?
Yes, but only certain entities can. Your report will be able to be accessed by your existing creditors and any debt collectors working for them. Your credit report is also accessible to any government agencies that need it in response to a court order, a search warrant, or subpoena.
How do you place a freeze on your credit report?
First, you need to contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies. You’ll need to give them your:
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Other personal information
Fees for this process vary by state, but you’ll most likely pay between $5 – $10. After receiving your freeze request, each company will send you a confirmation number, which contains a unique PIN or password. Make sure to keep this PIN safe, as you will need it to unfreeze your credit report.
How to lift a freeze
In most states, a freeze remains in place until you ask the reporting company to lift in. Once the company receives the request to lift the freeze, they must comply in no more than three business days. Costs to lift a freeze varies dependent on the state.