A credit freeze prevents third parties from accessing your credit file. If someone attempts to open a credit card or other account in your name, the lender will deny the request because they can't verify your credit information.
How to Freeze Your Credit
Call each of the credit bureaus to freeze your credit. They must verify your identity before they can process your request, according to the FTC, which means you must provide your name, social security number, address, date of birth, and other identifying information.
How to Unfreeze Your Credit
If you decide you want to finance a car or take out a mortgage on a home, you must unfreeze your credit so lenders can view it. Follow the exact same process you followed to freeze it in the first place; contact the credit bureaus and ask them to unfreeze it.
Each time you freeze or unfreeze your credit, you must pay a small fee. However, if you're concerned about identity theft, a credit freeze protects you from fraudulent activity and provides you with peace of mind.
Is a Credit Freeze the Same as a Fraud Alert?
A fraud alert offers a middle ground between a credit freeze and no action at all. It flags your credit file to encourage lenders to take extra steps to verify your identity when you apply for credit, according to TransUnion.
Now that you understand how to freeze your credit, take control over your finances. To manage your money more efficiently, sign up for Mint and track all your accounts and files in one place.