Submitted by Guidant Planning on September 14th, 2017
Q: What does a credit freeze do?
A: A credit freeze limits who can see your credit report information. The goal is to prevent anyone from opening any new accounts. It doesn't damage your credit or stop your credit report from evolving by your own actions.
Your credit information will still be released to your existing creditors and any debt collectors who may come calling.
If you want to open new lines of credit, you'll need to lift the freeze first. This can be done temporarily, either for a set time or for a particular party, like a landlord or lender.
Q: How much does a credit freeze cost?
A: A security freeze is free to identity theft victims who have a police report of identity theft.
If you are not an identity theft victim and you are under 65 years of age, it will cost you $10 to place a freeze with each of the three credit bureaus. That is a total of $30 to freeze your files. There is a $10 fee to temporarily lift the freeze for a specific creditor
However, if you are over 65 years of age it's free to add a credit freeze, $5 to lift and free to remove.
**Equifax is currently offering free credit freezes until October 11th***
It's also unclear whether Equifax will still charge you a fee to lift the freeze for customer who requested the freeze due to the data breach. The company did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Q: How long does a credit freeze last?
A: A permanent freeze remains until a removal is requested by the consumer. It is free to remove a credit freeze.
Q: How do I view my credit report?
A: (866) 349-5191 ext. 1 or https://aa.econsumer.equifax.com/aad/landing.ehtml
Q: Can I still get a credit card or loan?
A: When your credit is frozen you can continue to operate your financial life just as you typically would. The only notable thing is that you will need to notify the credit bureaus to lift the freeze before you ask a lender to approve you for credit.
If you are able to determine which credit agency your potential lender is using to run your credit, you can even save yourself some fees by just requesting the freeze to be lifted on that one.
The reporting agencies tell you that this may delay a legitimate credit request.
But for those who don't feel comfortable with the way the credit reporting agencies are handling their treasure trove of personal information, a notification to the agencies and day or so delay may be a fair price to pay for added security.
The agencies advise you to plan ahead and lift a freeze a few days before actually applying for new credit.
Q: How can I speak with an real person at Equifax?
A: (866) 349-5191 ext. 5
Q: What is the difference between a fraud alert and a freeze?
A: A fraud alert is a special message on the report that a credit issuer receives when checking a consumer's credit rating. It tells the credit issuer that there may be fraud involved in the account. A fraud alert can help protect you against identity theft. A fraud alert can also slow down your ability to get new credit. It should not stop you from using your existing credit cards or other accounts. "A security freeze means that your credit file cannot be seen by potential creditors or employers doing background checks – unless you give your consent. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumer's credit history.
Q: Do I have to freeze all three credit bureaus?
A: Yes. Different credit issuers may use different credit bureaus. If you want to stop your credit file from being viewed, you need to freeze it with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
The Equifax Systems may be down because of the influx of visitors. Please let us know if you have any further questions.
Your Guidant Planning Team