Is It Necessary To Freeze Your Credit?

We focus so much on identity theft and safeguards against it that it may seem like freezing your credit is the only solution in a world of identity thieves. That may or may not be an accurate assessment (ask me the next time my credit card is duped), but credit freezes aren’t for everyone. Consumerism Commentary offers a sort of beginner’s guide to the topic for readers who are trying to decide if it’s right for them.

As they point out, if you’re about to use your credit to buy a house, open a new line of credit or take out a loan, rent an apartment, etc., you’d be wasting money and time freezing it right now. If you weren’t planning on doing anything that requires credit or credit checks, it’s probably the simplest and most foolproof way to protect yourself from future identity theft.

However, it won’t have any impact on current accounts—if your active credit card is stolen, the thief will still be able to use it until you notice it’s missing and cancel it.

“Reader Question: Credit Freeze Worthwhile?” [Consumerism Commentary]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. azntg says:

    This is a “your mileage may vary” thing, but from the Creditboards forums, a lot of members seem to recommend freezing only for Experian because they tend to be the toughest credit reporting agency to deal with when a problem strikes (whether it’s your own problem or indeed a CRA mixup)

  2. mantari says:

    Q: With Universal Default, wouldn’t it make sense to freeze your credit, in the case that you’re late with one credit card payment, you won’t suddenly be attacked by your other credit card companies?

  3. mac-phisto says:

    i would say that if you’re planning on/in the process of/just completing a divorce, freeze your credit. & check your reports often. of all the people i know that have been victims of identity theft, it seems ex-spouse (or soon-to-be-ex-spouse) id theft is a pretty popular crime.

  4. e60 says:

    i’m from california, and did the whole thing for $30 ($10 per credit agency). you get a letter with your personal pin number, which you need to give in the event you want to unfreeze your account permanently or temporarily. photocopy of your DL, SSN for one of them (I forget which), and a copy of your most recent utility bill will do it. you need to send the mail certified. takes about a week to get the confirmation letters back.

  5. XTC46 says:

    @mantari: There is an exception in place for many of the freeze laws that states that it does not apply to companies who already have business with you, only to new lines of credit (kind of like the no call list for telemarketers)

    Here is an outtake from my states (hawaii) law

    (l) The provisions of this section, including the security freeze, do not apply to the use of a consumer report by the following:
    (1) A person, or the person’s subsidiary, affiliate, agent, or
    assignee with which the consumer has or, prior to assignment, had an account, contract, or debtor-creditor relationship for the purposes of reviewing the account or collecting the financial obligation owing for the account, contract, or debt, or extending credit to a consumer with a prior or existing account, contract, or debtor-creditor relationship. For purposes of this paragraph, “reviewing the account” includes activities related to account maintenance, monitoring, credit line increases,

  6. BigNutty says:

    My solution is that I check my credit card and bank accounts everyday for unauthorized charges. This is where you will find almost all identity theft occurs.

    Checking your credit report is also mandatory for me every 4 months (since one each year is free) and I also would check it if anything seems fishy like MAC-PHISTO stated above.

  7. Infe says:

    EQUIFAX charged me twice for doing a credit freeze. That’s right, $10 charged twice on my debit card for them doing shi* all nothing. It’s more trouble than it’s worth to get a refund from them, good luck even talking to a human!!

    Just a warning, because if you want to do a credit freeze, you have to do it all by freaking PAPER MAIL (ridiculous from the start) and print out all your lovely identifying information on paper for them to f* with. I’m sorry, it’s just I think the whole credit bureau industry is a scam. Pay them, to secure my own information?? But since we have to do it, be careful, not dumb like me or they will overcharge you.

  8. Infe says:

    Oh, and by being dumb, yea, it was dumb of me to use a debit card to pay with. I don’t remember if they accept checks or what…I should have used a credit card I guess (don’t have one, which is why I didn’t).

  9. Crushmeguy says:

    I use TransUnion’s TrueCredit monitoring service which, among other things, allows me to freeze and unfreeze my TransUnion report with a click of a button as many times as I want.

    I’m not sure if the other agencies offer similar service, though.