Both credit freezes and fraud alerts can help reduce your risk of identity theft, but which is right for you?*
A credit freeze locks down your credit. While a credit freeze is in place, access is restricted to your credit report, and no one, including yourself, is able to open a new credit account. A fraud alert doesn’t limit access to your credit report. It allows creditors to obtain a copy as long as they take steps to verify your identity.
A credit freeze is the best way to protect against an identity thief opening new accounts in your name. A freeze also can be helpful if you’ve experienced identity theft or had your information exposed in a data breach. While fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.
Placing a credit freeze won’t affect your credit score or your ability to use your existing credit cards, apply for a job, rent an apartment, or buy insurance. However, it can be temporarily lifted if you need to apply for new credit.
To place a credit freeze, you must contact each of the three national credit bureaus.
To place a fraud alert on your credit reports, contact one of the national credit bureaus. The credit bureau you contact must tell the other two, and all three will place an alert on their versions of your report.
The three national credit bureaus are: