Credit freezes: Your biggest questions

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Credit freezes: Your biggest questions
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At Clark’s Consumer Action Center, some of our most frequent calls involve credit freezes and credit thaws. 
CAC Director Lori Silverman answers your questions here.

Credit freeze and thaw FAQs

Why should I freeze my credit?

Freezing your credit prevents thieves from using your Social Security number to open credit in their name.
 

How do I freeze my credit?

You can freeze your credit with each of the credit bureaus online. For direct links to the bureaus, see Clark’s Credit Freeze and Thaw Guide.

Is there a cost to freeze my credit?

Yes, there is a cost to freeze your credit. The amount varies by state.  You can see what the cost is for your state at doctorofcredit.com.
 

Does freezing my credit affect my credit score?

No, freezing your credit does not affect your credit score.
 

How do I unfreeze (thaw) my credit?

A credit thaw can be done online using the pin number you received when your credit was frozen.  It is crucial to keep your pin numbers so you are able to access them when you thaw your credit. Just make sure to keep them in a safe place.
 

Should I freeze the credit of my deceased relative?

When a relative dies, you should send copies of the person’s death certificate to each of the three credit bureaus by certified mail/return receipt.

Can I get a loan if my credit is frozen?

You must thaw your credit in order to apply for a loan.  Lenders will not be able to access your credit score while your credit is frozen.
 

Do I have to freeze my credit with all three credit bureaus?

Yes. In order to prevent a criminal from compromising your credit, you must freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus.
 

How do I freeze my children’s credit?

Click here for the latest info.
 

What can I do to protect my child if I am unable to freeze his/her credit?

Sign up for ChildScan with AllClearID.com. ChildSscan offers a free service that combs through credit records, employment records, criminal records and medical accounts to find out if a crook has been using your child’s Social Security number.
 

How long will my credit stay frozen?

Your credit will remain frozen with all three credit bureaus until you thaw each account using the pin numbers provided at the time you froze your credit.
 

Should I have a credit monitoring service monitor my credit?

No. Clark does not recommend paying a fee to monitor your credit. A credit monitoring service only notifies you after a breech has occurred and the damage is done. A credit freeze prevents a criminal from accessing your credit to apply for credit in your name.
 

What if I forget my pin number?

If you forget your pin number, contact the credit bureau to retrieve it.

Credit Freeze/recover pin:    
Equifax 888-298-0045
Experian 714-830-7000 #3
Transunion 800-916 8800&

Can I still get my credit score if my credit is frozen?

No.  You will not be able to get your credit score while your credit is frozen.
 

Can I get a copy of my credit report if my credit is frozen?

Yes. You will be able to get a copy of all three credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
 

Can I dispute an item on my credit report if my credit is frozen?

Yes. You can dispute an item on your credit report.

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust.
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