How Do I Freeze My Credit Report?
Due to the high number of identity theft victims each year, citizens in all states now have the right to freeze their credit. Freezing your credit is the best way to prevent identity theft because it prevents any creditor or business from seeing your credit report in the first place. When a consumer freezes his or her credit report, it makes it impossible for a lender to approve a credit application since it denies access to the consumer's credit report. Thus, a credit freeze stops a thief from obtaining credit cards and loans in someone else's name.
The three credit bureaus (aka credit reporting agencies) -- TransUnion, Equifax and Experian -- do not like it that consumers can freeze their credit reports since they make lots of money selling everyone's information to businesses. Department stores and the major retailers also do not like it that you can freeze your credit. They want to encourage consumers to sign up for an in-store credit card instantly and a credit freeze prevents this. Auto dealers want to sell you a new car today and they want you to obtain financing on the spot. If your credit report is frozen, this means they can't immediately give you credit or approve your auto loan and it will take at least three days or even a few weeks for you to unfreeze your credit report.
How Do I Freeze My Credit Report?
Credit Reports -- Related Topics
Freezing your credit report isn't always free unless you are the victim of identity theft (you must prove you're a victim of identity theft by sending a copy of a police report to each credit reporting agency) or the law in your state requires the credit bureaus freeze your credit without charge. The fee to freeze and unfreeze your credit report if you are NOT a victim of identity theft can be as high as $10 -- it depends on the law in your state -- so to freeze and then unfreeze your credit report can run you as much as $20 or as little as $5 since some states prevent the credit bureaus from charging you for lifting a security freeze.
To freeze your credit report, you must contact each of the three credit bureaus, which you can do online or by mail. You will be assigned a PIN number that will enable you to unfreeze your credit file when you do apply for credit, either permanently or temporarily. When you want to unfreeze your credit report, you must supply them with the PIN number that they give you.
When you are planning to apply for a mortgage, car loan, credit card or obtain any kind of financing or certain types of jobs, you will have to unfreeze your credit report before doing so. You should do this two weeks before applying for financing. The credit bureaus say at their websites that it will take them at least three days to unfreeze your credit report.
Who should freeze their credit reports? If you are afraid of identity theft, you should definitely freeze your credit. If you move around a lot and will be buying a car or home in the near future, you might want to wait until after you do that. A person who is well-established, has a secure job they don't plan to leave, who already has a mortgage, new car and all the credit cards they need is a good candidate for a credit freeze since he or she won't be applying for any loans or jobs in the near future.
TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
Experian Security Freeze
P. O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Those who are at high risk for identity theft should definitely freeze their credit reports. Who is at high risk? People who download lots of things from the Internet, people who don't shred their mail before throwing it out, and people who click on links in emails from strangers should definitely freeze their credit.
If you want to freeze your credit by mail because you are the victim of identity theft, you can contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies at the following addresses:
The three credit bureaus will ask that you submit proof that you are a victim of identity theft (a police report) and that you prove your identity to them by sending them a copy of your drivers license and a second form of I.D., such as a copy of a pay stub or utility bill. This is why if you are requesting a credit freeze due to identity theft, you will have to do it by mail. You are allowed to permanently or temporarily lift a credit freeze online at the three credit bureau websites.
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348