Freeze Equifax Credit Report: Should You Freeze Your Credit Report?

keyboard credit report key to freeze equifax credit report

Freeze Equifax Credit Report: When Is It A Good Time To Freeze Your Credit?

Having your identity stolen is an awful situation, particularly with the recent Equifax data breach.  If a hack of your credit information occurred you may be at risk. In addition, the process of getting your name cleared up is long and difficult. It can take several months or even years to fix the situation.   As a result, you often end up feeling as though you’re the criminal, not the victim. Freezing your credit report can be an excellent option for preventing identity theft or protecting yourself if it already happened. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to freeze Equifax credit report.

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What Is a Credit Report Freeze and How Does it Work?

A credit report contains all the information regarding your payment pattern. Creditors typically use this information to make credit decisions about you. Freezing your credit report means sealing it with an extra security layer. You will receive a personal identification number that you can use whenever you want to make a legitimate credit application. That way, you can unfreeze the credit report, and a creditor can pull your file when it needs. It’s important to know that freezing your credit report in no way affects your credit score – it’s simply an added measure of security.

So, in case of identity theft, thieves can no longer establish new credit in their name – they might have been able to get your personal information, but banks and creditors require a credit check. Not being able to perform the credit check, the banks will deny your (or in this case, the thieves’) application for credit, keeping your credit score intact.

Should You Freeze Your Credit Report?

Here are some of the reasons why you should freeze Equifax credit report:

  • Your credit card’s number has been stolen
  • Your email address has been stolen or accessed by other people
  • Have a subscription to a credit monitoring service
  • You are a victim of identity theft
  • You want to prevent future identity theft situations

However, don’t freeze your credit reports if you regularly access them for work or for creating new accounts at different financial institutions. The costs of constantly freezing and unfreezing your reports would significantly increase.

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Credit Report Freeze Conditions

Security freeze laws differ from state to state. For example, most states require you to reach out to a credit reporting agency or credit bureau if you want to freeze your credit reports. There are, however, nine exceptions. All three credit bureaus in the states of Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Virginia allow their customers to freeze their credit reports voluntarily.

The freeze duration is also different from state to state. In Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota, a freeze lasts seven years, while in the other states it remains in effect until the customer removes it.

Make sure you check the freeze laws in your state on the credit bureau’s website. For those that live in the states mentioned above, be sure to have a reminder on your calendar for when the seven-year period finishes. Otherwise, you may go months or even years without realizing your credit protection against identity theft has expired.

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As far as fees are concerned, they typically range between $5 and $20 for operations like freezing, temporarily lifting the freeze, removing the freeze, or replacing the personal identification number (PIN). Victims of identity theft do not pay any fees to freeze their credit reports.

How to Freeze Your Credit Report at Each Credit Bureau

The three credit bureaus are Equifax Credit, Experian Credit, and TransUnion Credit. For each of these bureaus, you can freeze your credit either online on their website, by phone, or by certified mail, requesting a return receipt. If you choose to do it by mail, you will need to use a sample letter they provide. You must also check to see what attachments you need to include. Another operation you can perform online or by phone is a temporary thaw.

Make sure to check your state’s listing to find out exactly how much the operation costs, and if they offer any cost reductions in case you are a senior citizen.

With so many security breaches happening nowadays, considering a credit report freeze can be a good idea. Whether you’re aware of it or not, it can happen to anyone, at any moment. So, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

If you want to learn more about how to freeze Equifax credit report, the professionals at Creditsquared can help you through this complicated and sensitive process.

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4 Comments

  1. I did freeze both mine and my wife’s credit reports after I heard about the Equifax breach.

    This is one line of defense and really the only thing I could think of that might help prevent fraud in my name. I know our information is available to people these days, but this gave me a little piece of mind knowing that my credit can’t be pulled.

    It did cost me $5 each, for each report, so a total of $30 for my wife and I. We are not big credit users, so hopefully this isn’t an issue down the road.

    I do know that I need to give a couple of days notice to lift the freeze. This is a great post for those who are either considering a credit freeze, or just want to find out more about the process.

    • Hi Steve – Appreciate your input.

      I did the same as you and froze my credit accounts with each agency.  It cost a total of $40 dollars as Equifax was free due to our information being compromised in the hack.

      It will cost us $10 each time we want to unfreeze our credit, but like you, I felt it was the best way to protect our information, since we don’t use a lot of credit.

      I’m recommending to my visitors that they freeze their credit if they don’t have big credit requirements.  If they do, like most young folks, then I am suggesting they use a credit monitoring service like LifeLock.  There are other good ones a well.

      Here’s a short post I wrote that reviews some of the best credit monitoring services.

      What Is The Best Credit Monitoring Service?

      Thanks,

      Patrick

      https://www.creditsquared.com

  2. It sucks that this is even a common theme these days. This whole episode surrounding the data breach has forced many consumers to consider a freeze on their Equifax credit report.

    I have been fortunate enough where I have not had to do this… yet.

    You have provided some excellent information though in case it does.

    Thanks for the great post! We all know how important it is to keep up with our credit scores and making sure everything is in order on our credit report.

    To go along with this, you are also going to need to know how to take care of any issues when they pop up.

    • Nate,

      Thanks for your comment. It is a common theme these days, and it seems that there is not much we can do about it if we want to participate in the credit system.  And it’s just not our credit information that is at risk.

      I’m recommending that all consumers consider a freeze on their credit report as there is too much at risk not to. 

      The only caveat is that if you use a lot of credit or are considering large purchases like a home or new car then a credit monitoring service like LifeLock or similiar service will help you keep an eye on things.

      What Is The Best Credit Monitoring Service?

      A freeze on your Equifax credit report is free for a year, since your data was more than likely compromised.  You can check here.

      Best of luck,

      Patrick

      Creditsquared,com

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