How to freeze your credit and protect your finances from fraud
If you aren’t planning on applying for credit anytime soon, did you know that you can freeze your credit score and prevent crooks from using your information? It takes a bit of work, but you can lock in your credit and keep it from falling into good hands.
So how do you freeze your credit? And why would you want to anyway?
How to freeze your credit
To completely freeze your credit in the United States, you will need to contact three separate credit bureaus and obtain a password from each. These agencies are TransUnion, Experiential, and Equifax.
Once you’ve contacted all three, you’ll have protected any avenues a scammer may take and you’ll be safe from identity fraud.
Be sure to write down any passwords or codes that each credit bureau gives you, as they will be essential for unlocking your credit in the future.
Why freeze your credit?
Freezing your credit is a good idea if you won’t be applying for a loan, mortgage, credit card, or other credit-related product in the near future. This is because it plugs a hole through which a scammer could use to take out loans on your behalf.
When a cybercriminal gets enough personal information about you, they can use it to commit identity theft. Identity theft is nasty because it allows a hacker to impersonate you and withdraw credit cards in your name.
Of course, when a scammer tries to use your credit, they must first pass a credit check. Because they are doing it on your behalf, lenders will use your credit score in making their decision.
This is where the beauty of the credit freeze comes in. The credit freeze allows you to temporarily prevent anyone from performing a credit check using your details.
You need to do all three because if you forget to do one, a scammer can still use that specific agency to perform credit checks.
Once you’ve locked down all three credit bureaus, a hacker can no longer use your credit. If they try to do so, the credit bureau will report that the credit is frozen, causing the credit broker to deny the scammer’s request.
It should be noted that a denial due to a credit freeze is different from a denial due to bad credit. Freezing your credit will not hurt your score; it just tells businesses that you don’t want to use it right now.
Of course, that means you can’t use your credit either. However, if you don’t plan to use your credit anytime soon, you won’t lose anything and earn a lot by freezing it.
And don’t worry: you can always re-unlock your credit if you need to.
We covered this topic in more depth in a guide on how to prevent identity theft by freezing your credit, so be sure to check it out if you want to know more.
Protect your finances from hackers
If you’re not using your credit anytime soon, why not freeze it? In doing so, it prevents fraudsters from taking out loans and credit cards in your name. Best of all, if you need to use it again, it’s easy to thaw it out.
If you want to learn more about protecting your finances online, why not take a crash course on how credit card fraud works and how to protect it when shopping online?
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