Credit Freeze Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Identity theft continues to be a big problem in Florida and around the nation. Anyone with access to personal information such as your date of birth and Social Security Number (SSN) can use that information to take out loans in your name—without any intent of paying them back. When the thief takes off with their money, creditors come knocking on your door expecting you to pay.
To protect yourself, you might want a credit freeze on your account if you notice suspicious activity. The freeze will limit who has access to your credit report.
How Does a Credit Freeze Prevent Identity Theft?
The freeze makes it much harder for anyone to get a loan or open a credit card because the vast majority of lenders will want to see a credit report before agreeing to lend someone money. With the freeze in place, your credit report won’t be shared with anyone, which means that it would be very hard for a thief to obtain credit.
How Do I Request a Credit Freeze?
You should do so by contacting the credit bureaus directly. Probably the easiest way is to call, though you can also request a freeze online. Here are the phone numbers:
- TransUnion: 888-909-8872
- Experian: 888-397-3742
- Equifax: 800-685-1111
Each bureau will want personal information from you so they can identify you as the person requesting the freeze. Provide your date of birth, SSN, address, and other personal information. Credit freezes are now free thanks to federal law.
How Long Does a Freeze Stay in Place?
It will stay in place until you decide to lift it. You can do so temporarily, if you want to apply for credit or need a prospective landlord to check it, or you can lift it permanently. You can request lifting the freeze online or over the phone.
When you requested the freeze, the credit bureau should have given you a password or a personal identification number (PIN). Keep it in a safe place, because you will need it when requesting that the freeze come off.
Are there Better Options to a Credit Freeze?
You might want to consider a fraud alert instead. Unlike a credit freeze, a fraud alert doesn’t lock down your credit report. But a creditor must take steps to verify your identity before they can receive it. As an example, when someone goes to open an account in your name, the creditor might need to call a number provided to verify your identity.
A fraud alert is free, and you only need to contact one of the three credit bureaus. Whichever one you contact will alert the other two.
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