According to Credit Sesame, a credit freeze is “a process which locks down your credit file and prevents identity thieves and cyber criminals from opening credit in your name.” Credit freeze allows you to control your account and your credit reports will be inaccessible to anyone else. Credit freeze could help you prevent a U.S. consumer reporting agency, such as a credit bureau like Equifax, TransUnion, Experian, from selling your personal financial identity data. Once you freeze your account, all your financial information will be locked at the consumer reporting agency unless you give permission for the release.

Moreover, you needn’t worry about whether a credit freeze will have a negative effect on your credit score. Many people only freeze their credit after their identities have been stolen. But experts suggest that everyone should freeze his or her account. Credit freeze could work as a preventative method, lowering the risk of future financial losses.

In order to start a credit freeze, you need to prepare information such as Social Security number, birth date, and most recent addresses. Then you can contact major credit bureaus like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion by mail, by phone or online (among these, requesting by mail is the slowest). Once they receive your application of credit freeze, your credit freeze will be active within one to two business days. Noticeably, sometimes a credit freeze service charges fees, which range from $15 to $20.

Just be mindful, once you freeze your credit account, you cannot open a new credit card. It’s reasonable. Since credit card issuers such as banks and credit card companies need to inspect your credit report, they will not approve a new line of card when your account is still inaccessible. Luckily, you can unlock your credit account at any time. When you want to open a new card, you merely need to permit the bank to access your credit report.

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