Tutorial Explaining How to Freeze and Unfreeze Your Credit Reports
Forget all your worries about securing your credit history. Don’t call me insane because I value the credits that you have earned, and that’s why I have come up with this article to help you.
It will explain how to freeze your credit card, how to unfreeze your credit, who can still access it, its merits and demerits, and much more related to freezing credit cards.
I know the essence of this article increased your eagerness to know more. So dive into the write-up without any delay.
What Is A Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze is a feature that protects you from identity thieves online. Freezing a credit card doesn’t allow unauthorized users to apply for new credit by faking their identity. Therefore, this feature ensures restriction to accessing your credit reports.
However, your credit is not frozen completely. The companies with which you maintain credit relationships can still access your credit history even when you put your credit on freeze. Additionally, various government agencies that are involved in searching warrants or implementing court orders can also access your credit files.
When Should You Freeze Your Credit?
There may occur some extreme cases when you suffer through several fraud attempts at some point. In such cases, it becomes essential to secure your credit reports by freezing your credit files. Here are some situations where freezing your credit card is highly essential:
You receive collection notices and unreasonable bills at your mailing address without your prior knowledge. Inquiries or credit details are added to your credit report, indicating a previous activity that you have done with any lender or company. Note: The shocking point to be noted here is that you don’t know any of the parties mentioned on your credit reports. You get notified about any fraudulent activity with your account from the bank or credit union. A notification, mail, or message keeps you aware of the upcoming data breach of which you can be the future victim. What Happens After You Freeze Your Credit Reports?
After your credit reports are frozen, outside parties are blocked from accessing your credit details without your permission. Alternatively, they won’t be able to get any information till you keep your credit history blocked.
However, all of your current creditors, debt collectors, government agencies, and other legitimate interested parties can still access your credit reports.
Note: The most significant agency is the “credit monitoring service” that continues accessing your credit reports and informs you regularly about the introduction of any new changes, any suspicious activity, and much more that is mandatory for you to be aware of. How to Freeze Your Credit Reports?
If you are planning to freeze your credit to ensure security from identity fraud, then you have to contact every major credit bureau. There are three prominent credit bureaus:
Experian. Equifax. TransUnion.
To freeze your credit card,
you have to apply on every report with all three bureaus. The system will ask you to provide the following details: Full name Date of Birth Address and Social Security Number.
Besides these essential details, you can also be asked to answer certain questions. Answer all of them correctly to verify your identity, just like you do while
logging in to Carter’s credit card. After you have filled in the details and answered all the questions, you will receive a PIN that has to be used whenever you are trying to freeze or unfreeze your credit reports. How to Freeze a Credit with Equifax? You can freeze your credit report with Equifax either through its website or by connecting with an automated phone call. The contact number is 1-800-685-111.
(1-800-349-9960 if you are residing in New York).
However, if you want to contact one of their customer representatives, then contact the customer care number, which is 1-888-298-0045. Freeze Credit Card with Experian.
If you opt for Experian for freezing your credit reports, then either open its online Freeze Center or directly call on 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742)
Freeze your credit with TransUnion.
To freeze your credit through TransUnion, either process it online or through a phone call contacting 1-888-909-8872.
Like Equifax, you will find two systems here as well, i.e., an automated phone call and another option to call a live agent.
Who Can Access Your Frozen Credit Reports?
After freezing your credit file, the system restricts most of the credit inquiries. Nevertheless, you can’t restrict your credit file from certain legal parties under specific circumstances. To know who those are, go through the list of such entities as mentioned below:
Landlords and rental parties for monitoring your financial background. Lenders and other card issuers who maintain your accounts. They need to check your credit scores through their account management occasionally. Debt collection agencies may attempt to check your credit score when they have to obtain payment. Child support agencies to ascertain how excellently you can provide child support. Phone carriers and utility companies can decide the amount of security deposit needed for any equipment. Credit card issuers have to pre-evaluate your credit scores. Your current employers so that they can authenticate properly about your background checks. Reputed government agencies.
You have learned about how to freeze your credit history till now. Moving forward, you will get to know how to unfreeze your credit.
How to Unfreeze Your Credit Reports?
Read the following points to understand how to unfreeze your credit. Make sure you go through every point carefully:
To unfreeze your credit reports, the same web pages that I mentioned above can be used to remove or suspend a credit freeze whenever you feel like doing it. All three bureaus have provided instructions elaborately about how to unfreeze any credit report using the PIN both ways, via smartphone and through the credentials at each bureau. Additionally, you can also opt out to either unfreeze your credit permanently or temporarily for a certain period. For the temporary period, you can indicate a specific length of time till you want your credit reports to remain free of any restriction. Remember that depending on the bureau you select, policies will vary. Therefore, it’s become quite important for you to go through all the options that you will avail in every option before initiating the actual process. Your credit reports will become restriction free within an hour if you are trying to unfreeze your credit report through the phone. On the other hand, while you are signing in to your Experian account through the credentials, simply open settings, switch on the “Unfrozen” option and your credit will become unfrozen in real-time. Credit Freeze Vs. Fraud Alert
an article by , Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice “Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts can protect you from identity theft or prevent further misuse of your personal information if it was stolen”.
Now you may consider both terms the same, but that’s not true because credit freeze differs from Fraud Alert in some ways. Let’s try to understand the significant aspects of fraud alert that make it separate from the credit freeze.
A fraud alert protects credit reports from unofficial access for one year. However, if you have experienced identity theft earlier, then you should opt for an extended fraud alert to protect your credit history for seven years. Another point to note here is that your credit records are not locked completely under fraud or extended alert. However, creditors and lenders take extra initiative to examine your identity before issuing new credit in your name.
Therefore, if you don’t want to trouble yourself with the complexity of freezing and unfreezing your credit records, you should select the simpler solution of placing a Fraud Alert.
How to Place A Fraud Alert?
There is a prescribed process to follow while placing an extended fraud alert. First, you create an identity theft report and then get in touch with any of the three credit bureaus.
The bureau you choose will place the fraud alert accordingly. Lastly, ascertain that the credit bureau which you contact reports everything to the other two bureaus also.
Can I Freeze My Child’s Report?
Let’s say you have credit files of your minor children that you want to protect from unauthorized fraud. To add a precaution, you can freeze those credit files.
However, before you freeze any credit report for your children under 16, your own identity is verified first so that the request gets processed smoothly without any difficulty. You may have to show the following documents in this regard:
A court order. A birth certificate. A legitimate execution and a valid attorney.
As soon as your children turn major, their credit files can be unfrozen because your children who have turned major will become ready to seek credit on their own.
Will Freezing A Credit File Spoil the Credit Score?
No, your credit score won’t be impacted if you freeze your credit. Neither you lose your ability to apply for credit cards or loans ever. However, keep one thing in mind; a credit freeze restricts your creditor’s evaluation to inspect your credit application.
The lenders and creditors can’t process their task to ascertain you as a borrower unless you unfreeze your credit reports. It hampers the smooth processing of your application and hence delays everything.
However, if you are still confused about the same, you can go through the below-mentioned merits and demerits of freezing your credit card.
Merits and Demerits of Freezing Your Credit Report
Freezing your credit reports has its pros and cons. Before you proceed to secure your credit files, understanding the merits and demerits of the process will surely help you. To create a balance between the both, go through the positive and negative points:
Merits Demerits Your credit files remain protected by preventing identity fraud and online theft.A credit freeze doesn’t degrade your credit score.You can either freeze or unfreeze your credit reports online whenever you want to in the easiest manner.Just like you don’t have to pay anything while freezing your Best Buy credit card, you don’t have to pay anything to freeze or unfreeze your credit. Your credit files are not completely blocked. Some legal third parties can still access your credit reports whenever they need to do so. Credit freeze also imposes limited authorized checks. Whenever you want to apply for loans from authenticated resources, you are supposed to unfreeze your credit.This imposes a certain amount of difficulty every time for you before you can initiate the actual process. Final Thoughts
I hope I did justice to the essence of the topic and you learned about what credit freeze implies, how to freeze your credit card, the reason behind why some parties still can access your frozen credit card, how to unfreeze your credit reports, pros, and cons and much more.
I have covered every single aspect of credit freeze that is crucial to be aware of before you dive into the actual process. Lastly, it’s highly suggested to always get the right information before freezing your credit history so that nothing troubles you after the process starts.