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Fraud Alert Versus Security Freeze – Part 2

Written by Equifax Experts on December 23, 2011 in Credit  |   4 comments

Fraud alerts and security freezes are ways to protect yourself from identity theft and protect your credit score, but do you know how to use these protective measures and which one you might need? How security freezes work Many (but not all) states allow you to…

Fraud alerts and security freezes are ways to protect yourself from identity theft and protect your credit score, but do you know how to use these protective measures and which one you might need?

How security freezes work

Many (but not all) states allow you to place a security freeze on your credit file for free or for a reduced fee. A security freeze will put your credit file on ice by preventing the information in your Equifax credit file from being reported to third parties, such as credit grantors and other companies.

In addition, security freezes:

  • Block your credit file from being disclosed to third parties (except as noted above). Should you wish to apply for a loan or service, you must be proactive in requesting a lift in the security freeze so that the necessary third parties will be able to view the credit file if the file is frozen (except those exempted by law).
  • Remain on your credit file until you decide to remove or lift them.
  • Give you more control over who looks at your credit file.
  • May require a payment, based on the state in which you reside, to place and/or lift the freeze.
  • Are an effective way to prevent an identity thief from opening most new accounts in your name. However, a security freeze cannot prevent all types of identity theft.

For example, a security freeze will not prevent an identity thief from using your existing credit cards or other accounts.

With a security freeze, lenders will not be able to gain access to your credit file unless you give permission by “thawing” the frozen file using a secret code, similar to a personal identification number (also known as a PIN). This means that it’s unlikely that an identity thief would be able to open a new account in your name. Look into whether or not a security freeze is available in your state, what your state requires, how to request one, and
what fees may apply.

Keep in mind that even with a security freeze in place, your credit file will still be disclosed in certain situations. For example, companies with which you do business (such as your mortgage, credit card, or cell phone company) will still have access to your credit report, as would collection agencies that are working for one of those companies.

Companies will also still be able to offer you prescreened credit—the credit offers you receive in the mail for which you have not applied.

Additionally, in some states, potential employers, insurance companies, landlords, and other non-creditors can still get access to your credit report with a security freeze in place. However, even after you place a security freeze, you will continue to have access to your free annual credit report, and you will also be able to purchase your credit report and credit score.

4 comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    We,(a family of 4 with a 17 year old boy and 13 year old boy)had our passports, birth certificates , possibly some ss#’s form medical bills , checkbook, my son’s driver’s license all stolen from our rental car.

    I placed a 90 day fraud alert on my and my wife’s SS#. This happened 2 weeks ago. It would not accept the minor’s ss# to place the alerts. Should I now go into 7 year or use the security Freeze. We are considering refinancing our House with the present Low rates.

    • Anonymous says:

      My suggestion , place a security freeze on all credit reports, permanent security freeze. Get a police report, more than likely they won’t fill out a report so you will have to pay for the security freeze. Then you will have to submit an affidavit to the police for them to sign so the credit freeze will be free. Without the report the credit freezes are paid for a small fee.
      Then get everything changed to all agencies you that the documents were stolen from. If nothing else notify them of a fraud alert, and identity theft.

    • Ilyce Glink, Managing Editor, Equifax Finance Blog says:

      Anonymous –

      Equifax is about to introduce a new product that will be extremely helpful to you. It’ll be ready in a few months, so watch this space for the announcement. Wish I could say more, but as the saying goes, it’s above my pay grade!

      Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  2. Equifax Finance Blog Editor says:

    Thanks for the great comments. We will be launching a new “Family Money” blog series at the end of the month. We want to answer exactly these types of questions and provide more information to protect you and your family. Check back for more Family Money posts, and in the meantime, please leave your comments and questions.


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