with Howard Tischler,
Founder and CEO of EverSafe
Q. When does it make sense for people to put a freeze on their credit?
A. A credit freeze means that new creditors will have no access to your credit report. That prevents an identity thief from opening a new credit account under your name.
Freezing credit is a good idea if you think you’re a victim of–or at risk for–identity theft. And with all the data breaches, millions of people are at risk. Freezing your credit is one of the steps you can take to help protect yourself, like getting a fraud alert added to your credit report.
But freezing credit is not a cure-all. There are all kinds of crimes that go unnoticed by the credit reporting agencies. A criminal could withdraw funds from your financial accounts or make big, expensive purchases, and none of that will show up on a credit report.
Also, people should understand that the freeze protects you from fraud in new accounts, but it doesn’t protect you from fraud in the accounts you already have.
To really protect yourself you need to monitor all of your financial accounts, or use a technology service to do it for you.
It’s also important to know that when you freeze your credit, you sometimes have to unfreeze it to do certain things, like open up a new account. The credit agencies give you a password, which you can use for a temporary thaw in the freeze. Don’t lose the password.
To get a credit freeze, you need to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion (888-909-8872), Equifax (800-685-1111) and Experian (888-397-3742).