As time and technology evolve, so will fraudsters’ tactics to take advantage of the vulnerable. This poses a concern for many who are looking for better ways to protect their financial information. A credit freeze can be an effective solution, especially when traveling.
What is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze is a security process that blocks almost everyone from accessing or seeing your credit report without permission. A credit freeze makes it nearly impossible for fraudsters to open accounts under your name that you did not authorize. As a result, you also would not have access to new loans such as credit cards and mortgages during the credit freeze.
How to Freeze your Credit
To place a freeze on your credit, contact the three major credit reporting agencies:
Equifax – 1-800-349-9960
Experian – 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion – 1-888-909-8872
While most states, like Florida, now offer credit freezes as a courtesy, there may be a fee depending on your home state. In some states however, you may have the fee waived if you are a victim of credit fraud and have a police report to prove it. A credit freeze can be lifted temporarily or permanently by consumers at will, but often with a cost.
Removing the Credit Freeze
To lift or remove a credit freeze, you will need to contact each credit bureau and specify how long you want your credit report to be available.
Lifting a security freeze may be more difficult than placing one. To remove your credit freeze, you will be required to provide the unique PIN number that was given to you by each credit bureau when the freeze was initiated.
When to Consider a Credit Freeze?
Although a security freeze is an effective way to mitigate the risk of being a credit fraud victim, it may be best to consider different alternatives in some situations. If you simply want to protect your credit, you are better off setting fraud alerts as opposed to freezing your credit. In the coming months, Space Coast Credit Union will be launching 2Way Text Fraud alerts for SCCU Visa® credit and debit cards. Through this service, members will immediately be alerted via text of possible fraudulent activity on their cards.
A fraud alert will not prevent creditors from accessing your credit report; it will instead ask lenders to verify identity whenever attempts are made to open accounts under your name. However, it may slow the approval process, so if you’re planning on obtaining new financing you may not want to freeze your credit until afterwards.
It is reasonable to consider a security freeze if you are a victim of identity theft; however, a credit freeze works best when taking an extended amount of time off, out of the country or away from the location that you call home, longer than usual.
SCCU will never solicit personal or account information through phone, text, email, or other means that a member did not first initiate. Go to annualcreditreport.com
to review your free annual credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies.