5.26.21

FAQs About Credit Freezes

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Ever wonder what a credit freeze is and if you should have one? Here’s what you need to know.

In the realm of personal finance, a credit freeze is a powerful tool for protecting personal information and stopping fraud. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about freezing credit reports.

 

What is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze restricts who may access your credit report file. When your file is frozen, the credit reporting agencies are prohibited from sharing the contents of your file with others. This prevents an identity thief from opening new credit accounts in your name.

However, a credit freeze can’t fully protect you against identity theft. For example, if someone stole your credit card, they would still be able to make purchases. Or, if someone was able to access your Social Security number, they could fraudulently file tax returns or get health insurance in your name.

A credit freeze only limits who can see the information in your credit report and prevents new lines of credit being opened in your name.

A credit freeze does not affect your ability to use credit cards, lines of credit and other loans you already have. You can continue to use them as you normally would.

 

Should I freeze my credit?

Considering the number of data breaches reported where hackers gain entry to corporate computer systems housing personal information, a credit freeze can be a prudent move for everyone.

If your personal data has been compromised—for example, you lost your wallet or it was stolen—a credit freeze is a must as it will help prevent someone from opening new credit accounts in your name.

 

Does it cost anything to freeze credit?

Freezing your credit doesn’t cost anything. In 2018, federal law went into effect requiring credit reporting agencies to freeze and unfreeze credit files for free.

 

Will a credit freeze affect my credit score?

No, a credit freeze will not change your credit score.

 

How do I freeze my credit?

You must notify each of the three major credit reporting agencies that you’d like a credit freeze, including:

Freezes may also be requested by phone or mail. Visit each agency’s website for specific instructions.
 

Who can get a credit freeze?

You can request a credit freeze for:

  • yourself
  • your children under the age of 16
  • anyone for whom you are a guardian, conservator or have power of attorney

 When would I want to unfreeze my credit?

Sometimes you want your credit report information made available to others, such as when a potential employer, landlord or store where you’re seeking credit needs access to your file. Ask the person who needs access to your credit report which agency they use and unfreeze your credit at that agency.

How do I unfreeze my credit?

Lifting a freeze or unfreezing your credit report is done through each of the three credit reporting agencies online or by phone. Use the links listed above for each of the agencies or contact them by phone:

  • Equifax | 640.2273
  • Experian | 397.3742
  • TransUnion | 909.8872

You can temporarily or permanently lift a freeze and doing so is free.

 

Did you know?

You can keep tabs on your credit score from the dashboard of Consumers Online Banking and Mobile App. Learn more about the credit score feature.

Consumers provides banking services for more than 110,000 members. If you have banking questions, call us at 800-991-2221. We make it easy to bank how you want, when you want.

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As part of the Consumers family, you have free, unlimited access to financial management services.

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  1. Scott Grant says:

    I currently have a credit freeze with the 3 major credit companies. Will I need to temporarily life this freeze to open a high interest checking account with Consumer Credit Union? If so, which one specifically is used in the account open process. Thank you for your help!

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