Should I Consider a Credit Freeze?

If you are concerned about identity theft, data breeches or someone gaining unauthorized access to your credit report, you may be considering a credit freeze. But is it right for you? The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) may help.

Reasons to consider freezing your credit report.

  • You don’t anticipate needing a loan or line of credit for a purchase in the near future (car, house, jewelry, etc.)
  • You are not planning on opening any bank accounts
  • You want greater control of your credit

At a certain point in your life you may have all the credit you need so the advantage of freezing your credit rises with age. As consumers age, the time necessary to recover from identity theft grows so it may be more appealing to older generations.

Does a credit freeze affect your credit score?

No. A credit freeze means that your credit file cannot be shared with potential creditors. This can help protect your identity because most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking your credit history. If your credit is frozen and your name and social security number falls into the wrong hands, they will not be able to obtain credit in your name.

How do you place a freeze on your credit report?

Start the process by contacting each of the credit bureaus directly. You may either write a letter, or visit their website and request a freeze. In Illinois, you will need to pay $10 to place a freeze unless you are 65 years old, in which case there is no fee.

After last year’s Equifax breach, lawmakers on the state (including Illinois) and federal levels started working on legislation that would make placing, temporary lifting and permanently removing freezes free for everyone.

How long does it take for a credit freeze to take effect?

Within five business days of receiving your request, the account freeze will be in place. Thereafter, you will receive a unique pin, which is your confirmation and will be required to lift a freeze in the future.

How do you lift a freeze?

You can lift a freeze online using your pin, over the phone or mail your request to each of the agencies.

How long does it take for a credit freeze to be lifted?

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are required to lift your freeze within three business days of receiving your request.

Can my identity still be stolen even after I freeze my credit report?

Even with a freeze, someone can still try to steal your identity. A credit freeze will only protect you from thieves who try to open lines of credit in your name. Unfortunately, there are other ways your identity can be stolen.

Source: Illinois Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission

http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/security_freeze.pdf

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs

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