In this day and age, our personal financial information is constantly at risk of being stolen or otherwise exposed and misused. To help protect against fraudulent activity, credit experts recommend "freezing" your credit. Having a credit freeze in place allows you to restrict access to your credit report and prevents identity thieves (and you) from opening new accounts in your name. You can lift a credit freeze either for a specific period of time or for a specific party in the event that you need to apply for new credit.
As a part of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the three major credit reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—will allow consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit files free of charge beginning in September 2018. In order for a credit freeze to be effective, you will still need to request the freeze at all three bureaus separately, but you won't have to pay a fee each time you do.
Here's how to initiate a credit freeze:
- Contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies:
- Be prepared to supply your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and other personal information.
- Once your freeze request is received, each credit reporting company will mail you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN or password. You'll want to keep this PIN or password in a safe place so that you can access it when you wish to lift the freeze.
In most states, a freeze remains in place until you ask the credit reporting bureau to lift it, either completely or temporarily. If you are applying for credit or a job and want to temporarily lift a freeze, you can save yourself time and effort by determining which of the three credit reporting bureaus the business will contact for your file and lifting the freeze only at that particular bureau.
When you request to lift a freeze, the credit reporting bureau must do so within three business days.
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