NBSB’s Advice on How to Keep Your Credit Safe with a Credit Freeze

Credit is important and having a good credit score can help you get a loan for that new car, or help you secure a mortgage for your dream home. Even if you are not making a big purchase, your credit score is important and it travels with you through your financial and personal journey.  So, it stands to reason that you’ll want to keep your credit safe.

One of the most effective ways to safeguard your credit against data breaches and identity theft is a credit freeze. Here is what you need to know about how to freeze your credit.

 

What is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze is a way to restrict who has access to your credit report. When you freeze your credit with the three credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, potential lenders and other entities can’t view your credit history. If a lender or credit card company can’t pull your credit reports it makes it hard for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name.

However, a credit freeze doesn’t stop everyone from seeing your credit information. Your current creditors or debt collectors can still check your credit. A court order, subpoena or search warrant can also enable government agencies to access your credit. A credit freeze also doesn’t prevent you from getting pre-screened and pre-approved offers.

 

How a credit freeze works.

As mentioned, a credit freeze temporarily blocks access to your credit reports at the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It is temporary because you can freeze or unfreeze your credit at any time.

A credit freeze will stay in place until you ask the credit bureau to remove them. It is important to note the each of the three credit bureaus require that you contact each bureau to request a freeze or unfreeze.

Credit freezes affect only specific types of credit activity. A credit freeze has never prevented identity theft. A credit freeze can prevent someone from committing credit fraud by opening a credit account in your name without your permission. When you have a credit freeze in place, you can still check your credit report and scores, apply for jobs, rent an apartment or purchase insurance.

A credit freeze has other limitations. It can’t protect you from having your identity stolen. If someone already has access to your bank accounts or credit card accounts, a credit freeze won’t stop them from using your information to make fraudulent charges. A credit freeze also won’t stop someone from using your personal information to obtain government benefits fraudulently or file a fraudulent tax return in your name to get a refund.

 

So how do I freeze my credit?

Freezing your credit is not a complicated process. You can do it online, over the phone, or by mail. And remember, you have to make your request for a credit freeze individually with each of the three credit bureaus and you have to make a request to unfreeze it as well.

 

Here are the contact information for the credit bureaus:

Equifax: Visit Equifax Credit Freeze or call 800-685-1111

Experian: Visit Experian Security Freeze Center or call 888-397-3742

TransUnion: Visit TransUnion Credit Freeze or call 888-909-8872

 

When requesting a credit freeze you will need to give the credit bureaus personal information. That includes your name, address, date of birth and social security number. Experian requires you to set up a personal identification number (PIN) to freeze and unfreeze your credit. With Equifax and TransUnion, you can set up an account online and create a password to log in.

At North Brookfield Savings Bank, we do our best to protect you from fraudsters, scammers and the like and we will continue to do that always. However, it helps to have other resources that can further add an extra layer of protection to keep your information from getting into the wrong hands. We know that feeling protected will give you peace of mind, and to us that is most important.