Have You Heard of Credit Freezing? — Protect yourself and your family!

Get that credit under lock and key by freezing your credit.

To freeze or not freeze your credit? That is the question! Many of us wait until it’s too late before we think about freezing our credit. We are currently experiencing an uptick of fraudulent attacks on our personal information by criminals who are applying for loans, accessing people’s credit card accounts, and even taking out unemployment all under someone else’s name. Freezing your credit will not prevent active creditors from checking your credit, it will, however, help to prevent new lines of credit from being opened in your name.

You may or may not know this but, freezing your credit is not permanent and it will not hurt your score. Once you have frozen your credit you have to ability to temporarily lift the freeze to apply for credit, change employment, and get utilities if you have moved—and you can remove the freeze anytime. To Freeze your credit, you must contact all three credit bureaus individually. You can contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion online, by phone or in writing. According to each of the credit bureau’s websites, freezing your credit is free—so go ahead and freeze your loved one’s credit while you are at it. This will help keep everyone in your family safe from attacks on their credit.

When freezing your credit, you will need to set up a Personal Identification Number or PIN. This PIN can be uniquely designed by you or one can be issued to you by the credit bureau. You will need this PIN to verify your identity before you can temporarily lift or remove the freeze itself. Keep in mind, lifting your credit freeze, even temporarily, is not done instantaneously. Whether you do it online or by phone it can take up to an hour. If you mail in a written request it can take up to 3 business days from the time, they receive your request.

When applying for credit or employment, find out what credit bureau they will use to get the information they need so that you can temporarily lift the freeze at just that credit bureau. Beneficially, freezing your credit can be a deterrent to spontaneously applying for credit at retail shops and because there is no expiration date on freezing your credit, you control when, or if, you lift the freeze. However, be sure to plan your credit needs when adding a freeze, it can become inconvenient if you need to unfreeze your account in a hurry. You must also keep track of your PIN. You can request a new PIN if you lose your original one, however, you will have to take the steps to re-verify your identity—again time-consuming and inconvenient.

With so many fraudsters in the business of stealing your personal information, it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family. Take advantage of the ability to freeze and unfreeze your credit with no fees, it is an extra step, but nothing compared to what you will endure if today’s criminals get your information.

If you need help freezing or unfreezing your credit, contact me by calling (800) 326-6190 or email me at Creynolds@newdimensionfcu.com.

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