A credit report “Freeze” prevents lenders from pulling your credit score, so it could actually prevent would-be identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. But, is it really worth the trouble?
The credit bureaus aren’t exactly lining up to help you freeze your credit reports, since most of their money is made by selling your credit score and information to prospective lenders.
If you decide that you do want to freeze your credit report as a preventative measure you have to send a request in writing and provide up to seven documents (Driver’s license, Social Security Number, Utility Bills, etc.) as proof of your identity. You have to send all of that information to each of the three main credit bureaus individually. On top of that, you have to pay a fee to freeze and unfreeze your report. Then, when you get ready to apply for a loan, un-freezing your credit report takes several days.
(As a side note it is free for victims of identity theft to freeze their credit reports, but they must provide a police report documenting the theft.)
So, inquiring minds want to know. What do you think of freezing your credit report? Is the potential security worth the hassle, or do you want to be free to apply for credit and pounce on a better offer the minute you see it?
Here are a few facts to consider:
- It is estimated that there are as many as 750,000 cases of identity theft each year.
- It is frighteningly easy to steal someone else’s identity.
- You have to go through about 30,000 miles of red tape if your identity is stolen, including freezing your credit report anyway.
- Freezing your credit report only prevents new lenders from pulling your credit score. It does not prevent thieves from using your current credit card numbers, or bank account information, or your social security number any way they like.
So what do you think? Is the additional protection worth it, or is freezing your credit report something you will deal with only if you have to?