Is my credit at risk?
Once your personal information has been exposed, you are at a much higher risk for unauthorized access to your credit. In other words, a criminal may try to assume your identity and leverage your credit to open up new accounts such as a credit card or line of credit.
Credit Lock vs. Credit Freeze – what’s the difference and which is better?
A credit lock and a credit freeze are similar but also share some distinctive differences. First, let’s take a look at how a credit lock and credit freeze are similar.
- When enacted, both a credit lock and a credit freeze will make it more difficult for would be thieves to exploit your credit by opening new accounts by restricting access to your personal credit report.
- To be fully effective, a credit lock or credit freeze needs to be placed with each of three national credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Neither a credit lock nor a credit freeze will provide protection against unauthorized access to your past or previously established accounts.
Convenience – A credit lock is more or less an enhanced version of a credit freeze which makes it easier for you to both lock and unlock your credit at will. This means you may find it easier to continue your finances as usual with the ease of quickly locking and unlocking your credit whenever you have the need (e.g., need to apply for a loan).
To freeze your credit you’ll need to manually make calls to the three bureaus, provide your personal information such as your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information in addition to waiting for a confirmation via mail which will include a PIN/password to use when you wish to lift your credit freeze.
Once signed up for a credit locking service, locking and unlocking your credit can be accomplish by the simple push or swipe of a button.
Price – A credit freeze is traditionally the cheapest method to protect your credit. While the price may vary, the price for a freeze is usually between $5 and $10 per month while a credit lock will typically run closer to $20 per month. It’s important to note that some bureaus are currently offering discounted or even free credit freezes and locks so it’s important to check current offers.
Which option is best?
If you actively use your credit, you may find a great deal of benefit in the convenience that a one-touch credit lock service provides. However, a credit freeze will likely provide adequate coverage for many individuals at a cheaper price. The best option really depends on your unique situation and needs.
How do I freeze my credit?
To freeze your credit you’ll need to contact Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Equifax Equifax— 1-800-349-9960
- Experian Experian — 1‑888‑397‑3742
- TransUnion TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872
Be prepared to provide your vital information such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security.
How do I lock my credit?
TransUnion and Equifax currently appear to provide a combined credit lock option, while Experian offers their own separate service. You can further evaluate these services against your needs with each of the links below: