The recent massive Equifax hack left the credit information of 145.5 million Americans compromised. As a result, many people have begun to become proactive in protecting their credit.

One of the most effective methods they to use to prevent identity theft and other types of financial fraud is to enact a credit freeze.

Use of this measure is growing in popularity as it has proven to be very effective in stopping thieves from accessing and using people’s credit information fraudulently.

This article is designed to help people to get a basic understanding of what a credit freeze is, how it works, what it costs, and the benefits it offers.

What Is a Credit Freeze?

A credit freeze, also known as a credit security freeze, entails a person instructing one or all of the three largest and most commonly used credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, not to release their credit report information to any party without expressed consent.

This prevents any individual, company, or organization from being able to review the person’s credit history. Without access to credit history, companies cannot extend credit or make loans.

During a security freeze, nobody can utilize any type of credit services with your identification information without communicating with you directly. This prevents crooks from fraudulently opening new accounts in your name.

What Are the Benefits of a Credit Freeze?

There are several benefits to getting a credit freeze. They give people direct control over who has access to their personal information.

A credit freeze is a great way to get additional protection for those using credit monitoring to prevent identity theft fraud.

This is empowering and gives people the peace of mind of knowing they can be proactive in preventing theft of their financial information.

Credit Freezes = More Control

Imposing a credit freeze does not have any impact on a person’s credit score nor their creditworthiness. Plus, it doesn’t prevent government entities, debt collectors, or existing creditors from accessing your credit report information.

And of course, the legitimate owner of the credit history can still access the credit report information at any time. The credit freeze also doesn’t prevent people from using their existing lines of credit.

It simply gives people tighter control over who has access to their credit report, when and how often. This can help to thwart identity thieves from gaining access to your private financial information.

Can Anyone Get a Credit Freeze?

Any adult concerned about the security of their financial information can put a credit freeze in place to protect their identity or credit information from being used by fraudsters.

In many states, parents can do a credit freeze for their minor children. This is to prevent identity thieves from stealing the children’s personal information and using it to open up credit accounts and incurring debt in the name of the minors.

This is a problem that’s been growing in popularity for decades. However, with a simple phone call, the credit information of any adult or child can be protected with a credit freeze.

Are Credit Freezes Easy to Do?

Putting a credit freeze in place is a simple process. You can handle it through the mail, over the phone, or online. All you have to do is contact the three primary credit reporting bureaus and tell them you want to put a credit freeze in place.

They will ask for your name, date of birth, Social Security number, address, and other personal information to verify your identity. They will then put the credit freeze in place and give you a PIN that will enable you to access your credit info to check it or make changes.

What’s the Average Credit Freeze Price?

The price of a credit freeze varies from state to state and is based on your personal situation. In several states, there is no cost to put a credit freeze in place. In other states, the credit freeze price can range from $3.00 to $10.00.

You have to pay that fee to each of the credit reporting agencies you want to freeze your credit. In most states, if you’ve been a victim of identity fraud or if you are 65 years of age or older, there is no charge to get a credit freeze.

All it takes is a phone call and answering a few questions to verify your identity. The entire process can be completed in just a few minutes. Proponents of the Consumer Protection Act are working to make temporary and permanent credit freezes free in all states.

How Do You Lift a Credit Freeze?

If you need to change jobs or apartments, apply for credit, a mortgage or any other type of loan, switch your cable or utility provider, or shop for insurance, you will need to temporarily lift or thaw your credit freeze.

To do this, you will have to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies, verify your identity, give them your PIN, and tell them how long you need the credit freeze lifted.

It’s a minor inconvenience people sometimes have to endure to ensure their credit and personal information remains protected while they continue to live a normal life.

Get Next-Level Fraud Protection

In the past, credit freezes were only available to people who had already been victims of identity theft, but now, most states allow people to use credit freezes to proactively protect their identity and their finances.

Why not take it one step further and get next-level protection from credit card fraud and other frightening forms of identity theft? Many of the best identity protection services offer you a free trial or money-back guarantee. You don’t have anything to lose, other than your fear of ID theft!