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Credit Security Freeze

a series of financial security tips

With millions of identity theft cases reported each year, a security freeze can be a useful measure in preventing identity theft. While not for every consumer, the security freeze is considered the strongest measure one can take in protecting a credit file.

How it Works

A security freeze works by the consumer requesting the freeze with each of the credit bureaus. once the freeze is in place, potential creditors are unable to access both your credit report and score unless you “unlock” your file. This prevents would-be identity thieves from establishing new credit in your name. You can still check your credit report and score at any time.

Current creditors are exempt from the freeze, along with law enforcement and other governmental agencies. State laws control security freeze rights and fees, which tend to range from $3-20.

Other options exist for limiting access to credit. A fraud alert is one example; however, it’s a temporary measure that lasts for 90 days. A security freeze is a permanent measure until you choose to lift the freeze. To determine if a security freeze is right for you, consider your current need for credit. A security freeze would be most appropriate for a consumer who is extremely concerned about identity theft and has little need for immediate credit.

What to Do

To initiate a security freeze, you must contact all three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. If you want to apply for new credit, you must lift the freeze (which can take several days). A freeze may also need to be lifted to allow insurers, utility providers, or potential employers access to your credit file.

The information contained in this post is intended for educational purposes only and was compiled from an article penned by Work-Life Solutions experts, WashU’s employee assistance program vendor. If you would like to do a deeper dive or talk with someone about your specific situation, consider the following resources: