With the rise in identity theft, it is more important than ever to protect yourself from sophisticated scammers. Under a federal law that went into effect in 2018, individuals can freeze and unfreeze their credit records for free at all three major credit reporting companies – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score.
Who Can Request Credit Freeze: Anyone can freeze their credit report, even minors (see bottom of this article for guidelines).
How it Works: A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report and prevents unauthorized accounts from being opened while the freeze is in place. A temporary lift of the credit freeze can be requested if you need to apply for a new credit card, get a new loan, or are renting an apartment that requires a credit check.
How to Request a Credit Freeze: Set up an account with each of the three credit bureaus.
- Equifax: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
- TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-help
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
Duration: A credit freeze lasts until a request is made to remove it.
How to Unfreeze: Contact each of the three credit bureaus. If the request is submitted online, the account will release within an hour of the request. There are two options for unfreezing:
- Schedule a temporary release for a specified time period.
- Remove the freeze permanently.
Credit Freezing for Minors
Minors typically do not have credit reports, which means they are easy targets for scammers. Unfortunately, identity theft may not be discovered until the minor is a young adult. A parent or legal guardian can place a credit freeze on their dependent minor’s credit bureau accounts. Additional steps and documents are required for placing a credit freeze for a minor.
How to Request a Credit Freeze for a Minor: Complete a credit freeze request for each of the three credit bureaus.
- Equifax: https://assets.equifax.com/assets/personal/Minor_Freeze.pdf
- TransUnion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/credit-freeze-faq#freeze-other-minor
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/help/minor-request.html
Whether you use a credit freeze or not, you should continue to monitor your credit reports, protect your personal information, and use strong passwords to minimize the risk of identity theft. For information on accessing free credit reports, go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.
The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however BWA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. This article is not intended to provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such. To determine which strategies may be appropriate for you, consult your tax and financial professionals. Investment Advisory services are offered through Bordeaux Wealth Advisors, LLC. Advisory services are only offered where Bordeaux and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered unless a client agreement is in place.