How to Freeze Your Credit: A Complete Guide

Data breaches are the new normwhich means you need to know how to handle one if your info gets compromised. One of the best places to start? With something called a credit freeze (also known as a security freeze).

You can set up a credit freeze within minutes, just by calling all three of the major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. The best part? It’s completely free.

Whether you receive a security alert from your bank or one of the various companies you’ve made purchases from, you’re going to want to know all the right steps to take to ensure your accounts are safe from fraud and identity theft.

So before you commit to going off the grid or hiding out in a bunker in New Zealand, read this. We’ve got all the details you need to keep your personal info (and financials) safe with a credit freeze.

When Should You Freeze Your Credit?

Many people freeze their credit after their identities have been stolen, which is fine.

However, this means you’re basically in a race against the criminal: Who can get to your credit report first?

Steven Weisman, a Bentley University professor and author of the fraud and identity theft blog Scamicidesuggests freezing your credit now — and always.

He thinks of the tool as a “preventative medicine.”

“This is the single best thing someone can do to protect themselves from being a victim of identity theft,” he says. “Even if your Social Security number was in the hands of an identity thief, you’d still be protected.”

If you’d rather not put your credit on perma-freeze, then you should also consider it under the following circumstances:

  • You’ve been the victim of a data breach. (At this point, that’s nearly all of us.)
  • You believe you may have become a victim of identity theft.
  • You want to protect your child’s credit.

Once your credit is frozen, you will still have access to your credit report, as will current creditors and debt collectors. Employers — current and…

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