Effective Sept. 21, 2018, security freezes and fraud alerts will change under a new federal law. Placing, temporarily lifting and removing security freezes is now free for consumers, and initial fraud alerts increased from 90 days to one year. For more information, please click here.
There is a lot of personal information in your credit report that could be used for identity theft and that could allow thieves to open accounts in your name. Restricting access to your credit report and monitoring your financial activity is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your credit score.
Fraud alerts and security freezes can help you if you think you might already be a victim of identity theft, but taking control in advance by locking your Equifax credit report can help prevent unauthorized activity from occurring. The big difference between fraud alerts or security freezes and locking your credit report is your control over the activity.
If you have in place select Equifax credit monitoring products, you have the ability to lock and unlock your credit file at a moment’s notice. You don’t have to file a report or contact an agency—you can log into your Equifax monitoring product or use the Equifax Mobile App to almost instantaneously lock or unlock your credit report.
When would you want to lock your Equifax credit report?
There are situations you may be in that can require a great deal of legitimate activity on your credit report. For example, you may be shopping for a new car, opening a new credit card, setting up utility accounts, or looking to refinance your mortgage. During these times, lenders and other organizations will need to access your credit report.
All inquires are not bad. It’s acceptable for these people and services to look at your credit report in order to evaluate you for the best deals and interest rates. But you may want to consider a monitoring product to keep tabs on who is looking at your credit report and to make sure only authorized accounts are accessing your credit file.
When you lock your Equifax credit file, access is restricted from new inquiries. This means that you can’t shut out lenders with whom you already have a relationship. The lock also won’t restrict your everyday financial activities—but it will prevent access to your credit report by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies.
Note that there are exceptions and that the following will not be locked out:
- Companies like Equifax that provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or that monitor your credit file.
- Federal, state, and local government agencies.
- Companies reviewing your application for employment.
- Companies that have a current account or relationship with you.
- Collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe.
- Someone accessing your account for fraud detection and prevention purposes.
- Someone accessing your account for an insurance application.
- Companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you.
If you don’t plan to apply for new credit any time soon, locking your credit file is a great way to protect your credit report and ensure no one is using your personal information to open credit accounts. When you need to apply for new credit, you can feel secure knowing you can always temporarily unlock your Equifax credit report.
Diane Moogalian is vice president of operations for Equifax Personal Information Solutions. Prior to joining Equifax in 2007, Diane held several strategic roles with leading financial services companies.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.