Freezing your credit is an effective, cost-free way to make it harder for thieves to open credit cards or other financial accounts in your name. It also can reduce your chances of becoming an identity theft victim.
How do you freeze your credit at each bureau?
To freeze your credit, which is different from locking your credit, contact each of the three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and request a credit freeze.
When you make the request, you’ll need to provide your name, address, birth date, and social security number. You will then be asked a few questions to verify your identity and get a PIN that you can use to unfreeze and refreeze your credit report as needed.
Note that a new federal law requires all three bureaus to offer freezes for free as of Sept. 21, 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Here’s how to place a credit freeze at each of the three bureaus.
Equifax credit freeze
Easily freeze your credit with Equifax on their website, or via an automated phone line: 1-800-685-1111. If you’d rather talk to someone, their customer care number is 1-888-298-0045.
Experian credit freeze
To freeze your credit at Experian, visit their online Freeze Center. You can also call 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742).
TransUnion credit freeze
TransUnion allows you to place a credit freeze online. You can also add a freeze via the automated phone system (or opt to speak to a live agent) by calling 1-888-909-8872.
Pros and cons of freezing your credit
- A credit freeze helps reduce your risk of identity theft since potential lenders can’t access your credit reports while the freeze is in place.
- Credit freezes are free by law as of Sept. 21, 2018, while credit monitoring services can be an expense.
- The freeze can be lifted temporarily if you need to have your credit checked.
- You will have to contact each credit bureau to lift the freeze if you want to apply for a credit card, mortgage or other product that requires a credit check.
- It can delay your applications for jobs, cellphone service or any other situation that requires a credit check, since you will have to lift the freeze each time.
- It will not protect you in situations where criminals already have access to your accounts (like if your bank login credentials were previously stolen via hacking).
White River Credit Union is here to help
Our helpful team can assist you if you have any questions about freezing your credit. Contact us today.