[Updated 9/24/18 with direct links to each bureau’s freeze site]
Remember the 2017 Equifax data breach that affected 143 million Americans whose sensitive personal information got exposed?
I was one of them.
It got me scrambling to protect my identity and I became anxious waiting for potentially fraudulent activity.
I learned soon after, that the easiest way to make sure no one steals your identity is via a credit freeze.
What is a Credit Freeze?
This means that nobody, not even you, can open new credit accounts while on the freeze. To unfreeze or “thaw” the account(s) you actually need a security pin that’s provided by the reporting bureau. Credit freezes don’t hurt your credit score, nor do they prevent you from getting a credit report. Freezes are basically just a security lockdown for your credit.
Typically, a credit freeze can cost between $3-$10 depending on location.
But as of September 21, 2018, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit for free in addition to receiving fraud reports from all 3 bureaus all year long.
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion will each be creating new websites so everyone can freeze, unfreeze, and request fraud alerts easily.
Fraud alerts notify you first if any business wants to run your credit (for a credit card or car loan etc) before opening a new account. Alerts used to be set at 90 days, but now alerts will last an entire year.
This federal law of having free credit freezes was passed in May of 2018 in response to the Equifax breach.
To initiate your free freeze or unfreeze an account, head to the following bureaus:
Equifax users: www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
Experian users: www.experian.com/freeze
TransUnion users: www.transunion.com/credit-freeze