I had this crazy idea. If I froze my credit report would that freeze my credit score? And if it did that, would I be able to avoid all by current debts? The truth is, you cannot do any of that. There’s no simple way to hack your credit score because the banks would fight to end that immediately. Money is power and the banks have a lot of power. That’s why we’ll go over how to freeze your credit and what happens.
With all the data breaches, you might want to consider freezing your credit. Personal information can easily be compromised and many people have leaked social security numbers online. But instead of getting a new social security number, you may want to consider just freezing your credit. Freezing your credit helps you to avoid identity and fraudulent account from being opened in your name.
You should freeze your credit because it’s free and protects your identity. Imagine the hassle of going through identity theft where you spend hours, days, weeks trying to prove that you didn’t open a bunch of accounts all while trying to repair your credit score. Is it hard to freeze your credit? It may take up to 30 minutes to set up accounts to freeze your credit the first time..
What happens to my credit score when I freeze my credit?
Freezing your credit means no new accounts can be open under your name. That means no one can open a new credit card, loan or cosign with your name while your credit is frozen.
When you get your credit frozen, you will be provided a PIN (that you absolutely can’t lose). You’ll need to provide that PIN anytime to any lenders that need to run your credit report. This is most common when applying for loans and credit cards.
Having your credit frozen is not the same as having your credit score frozen. It just means that each of the credit bureaus will not respond to any requests for hard inquiries on your credit report. Soft inquiries and reporting for your active accounts will go through as usual.
Pros and cons of freezing your credit:
Basically, the only negative is that you are slightly inconvenienced. I actually don’t know many people with their credit frozen and it will only take 30 minutes to protect your identity since you can do it online.
- New accounts cannot be opened
- Protects from identity theft
- No impact on credit score
- It takes 30 minutes to freeze your credit with all 3 credit bureaus
- Gotta keep track of your PIN whenever you need to unfreeze your credit
- Every time you apply for a credit card or loan you’ll need to unfreeze your credit
Is freezing my credit bad for my credit score?
When your credit score is frozen, it has NO impact on your credit score. Freezing your credit is neither good or bad for your credit score. It just prevents new accounts from being opened and all your existing accounts will work as usual. Your credit score will not be frozen and that can fluctuate depending on any mistakes you are making with your credit or if you’re using credit correctly (see credit tips).
Should I freeze my credit?
It depends on your situation. If you will be applying for a home soon or any new credit cards, you probably shouldn’t freeze your credit. Freezing your credit score also prevents you from being added as an authorized user on a credit card, which won’t allow you to benefit from buying a tradeline for a credit boost. You also won’t be able to cosign a lease or loan because the lender won’t be able to add it to your credit report.
But, if none of what I just mentioned applies to you, you should consider freezing your credit. After writing this article I froze my own credit report. I don’t plan on opening any new lines of credit and if I did, all I would need is a PIN so the bank can update my credit report. It’s an extra layer of protection against fraud that takes less than an hour to do and can save you from identity theft.
How much is it to freeze my credit?
It’s completely free to freeze your credit as of 9/21/2018 according to the FTC. You will need to freeze your credit with all 3 credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian,and TransUnion.
How to freeze your credit?
You can freeze your credit for free with any of the three credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. To freeze your credit, you can either call them or you can make a request to freeze your credit online:
- Equifax (1-800-349-9960)
- TransUnion (1-888-909-8872)
- Experian (1-888-397-3742)
You’ll need to create an account with each of the credit bureaus and answer a lot of personal questions about any loans you used to have, phone numbers you’ve had and addresses you’ve lived in. This is great additional security feature so no one can unfreeze your credit without the right credentials. During the account sign up process, Experian asked me a question about how much my credit card statement bill was in May of 2017. That being several years ago, I had no idea and guessed. This caused me to fail my account set up for Experian but I was successfully able to lock my credit report with Transunion and Equifax. Due to the authentication issue with Experian, they will physically mail me a letter with a code to verify my identity within a week to complete the verification process.
After freezing my credit report with Transunion and Equifax, you’ll need to input a 6 digit PIN code associated with your credit freeze. You’ll need to use this PIN whenever you want to unlock your credit report or to set a temporary unfreeze. Be sure to save your password (physically) in a safe place in case you forget. It will not be easy to reset your password since you will have to provide a lot of physical documentation to prove your own identity.
How do I unfreeze my credit?
To unlock the credit freeze contact each bureau online, by phone or by mail. You can completely remove the freeze or you can set a temporary unfreeze for a set amount of time.
How to unfreeze your credit temporarily?
You can temporarily unfreeze your credit report so that lenders can open new accounts and update your credit report. The temporary freeze last for a duration of time that you choose. If you’re applying for a car loan or credit card, you can unfreeze your credit for a week. For home loans, you might want to unfreeze your credit report for a month since you don’t know when they will be running reports.
How long does it take to unfreeze your credit?
To unfreeze your credit it can take one hour. You’ll need to do this with all three credit bureaus. You can also make the request by physical mail and they will unfreeze your credit within 3 days of receiving the letter.
How can I verify my credit is frozen?
If you haven’t already, you can create an account with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. When you log in to your account you will be able to see if your credit is frozen.
Other Credit Freeze Questions Answered
Do I need to freeze all 3 credit bureaus?
Yes, to fully freeze your credit you need to make the request to Experian, Equifax and Transunion. You can find out more about the legal requirements of credit reports at USA.gov.
My credit is frozen and I didn’t do it
There is a serious issue on your account then. You will have to take a look at your credit report and see what accounts are open. If your credit report shows everything is normal, I suggest checking with the credit bureaus as to why your credit was frozen and when did it happen.
How long do credit freezes last?
You might want to research your specific state, but in almost all of them a credit freeze lasts for 7 years. Don’t worry though, it’s not a hard lock on your credit. You can temporarily unfreeze your credit whenever you need to just remove the freeze completely.
Can I get my credit score if my credit is frozen?
Yes, you can get your credit score even if your credit report is frozen. Your score will update the same way even if you didn’t have a credit freeze. You can request your credit report for free with Credit Karma and there’s a few more options on the Resources page.
Set up an account with Equifax, Experian and Transunion to also get your official credit report and any alerts. You can request a free credit report from them once every 12 months. Make sure you don’t pay for any reports otherwise you can make a government complaint with the FTC.
Can I still use my credit card if I freeze my credit?
Yes, you can still use your credit card if you freeze your credit. Freezing your credit report does not impact any usage with your credit cards and any of your open accounts.
Can I freeze my credit and declare bankruptcy?
I like what you’re thinking here, but it’s not a good idea. Freezing your credit doesn’t freeze your credit score. If you default on your active accounts your credit score will go down.
How effective is a credit freeze?
New accounts cannot be opened in your name so it helps a lot against identity theft. There’s still no guarantee that you are completely safe from fraud, but it’s still a lot better than having no protection.
Additionally, you will want to have credit monitoring (free for 90 days from all bureaus) active for the extra layer of safety. I wouldn’t pay for it though if my credit is already frozen.
It’s free to freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus and you can unfreeze them for free. There’s no limit to how many times you want to do this and it will probably take you 30-minutes to freeze all 3. The main benefit of freezing your credit is that it prevents identity theft. Even though your credit is frozen, that doesn’t mean your credit score is frozen. Your credit score will be unaffected by a credit freeze, because that’s only a freeze on your credit report.
Overall, there’s a lot of upside to freezing your credit while the downside is a SLIGHT inconvenience. I suggest you freeze your credit and maybe your friends should too. Share this message.