Placing a freeze on your credit is one of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft
A credit freeze prevents potential creditors from accessing your credit file. Effectively, this would prevent an identity thief from opening a credit account in your name. The freeze would need to first be lifted for a credit check to be completed blocking any attempt to open a new account without you taking action prior to the credit check.
Credit Freeze vs. Credit Lock
You may have also heard of a credit lock. While similar, a credit lock is less secure and therefore not recommended by us at Lookout. The primary difference is that a credit freeze directly blocks access to your credit profile with the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. With a freeze in place, no third part can access this information.
Separately, a credit lock is provided by a third party company, usually an identity protection service. This allows them to manage the lock for you, but inherently gives them access to your credit profile at the bureaus to perform this task on your behalf. If your ID Protection service of choice were to suffer a data breach, access to your credit profile could be compromised as well. Setting up a credit freeze directly will eliminate this attack vector.
When you provide personal information to a credit monitoring service, you will be alerted when that information has been made available publicly via conventional search engines or on the dark web. Bad actors can use this information to access your credit without your knowledge. We find this service to be very valuable in reducing damage done, but notifications can only occur after the leaked data is detected.
A credit freeze will firmly prevent any access to your credit, to review it or pull new lines of credit, without your consent.
Our Premium Plus plan is designed to monitor for these leaks, and much more, and help you get back on your feet if such a leak should occur. While knowing your personal information has been compromised allows you to take swift action, having a credit freeze in place will stop much of the damage.
How Do I Setup a Credit Freeze?
You must contact each credit bureau to initiate a credit freeze. We recommend you leave your credit frozen until you specifically want to open a new credit account. It's very simple to turn on and off a freeze.
The following links will take you directly to each credit bureau's credit freeze services:
- Equifax: Take control of your Equifax® credit report, (800) 685-1111
- Experian: Security Freeze, (888) 397-3742
- TransUnion: Credit Help, (888) 909-8872
For further information, please review this article from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau(CFPB)