How the mechanisms of a security freeze work?

If you suspect that your credit details are compromised, a strong tool is available to prevent further damage – a security freeze on your credit report.  How it works for you?

If you suspect that your financial information or personal details are disclosed to unknown persons, there is a risk of identity theft.  You can prevent it by requesting for a security freeze on your credit report.

How to request such a freeze?

You can request a freeze at any time and it may be for any reason.  Such a request will not hurt your credit score.

You have to make a written request to each of the three credit bureaus.  Preferably, you should send such request by a certified mail.  While making such a request, you should send personal details to identify yourself – your name, previous names, your current address, your social security number, and your date of birth. You need to send the necessary fees to process your request. No need to write any reason for your request.

However, if you are a victim of identity theft, you can request a freeze without any charge. You should make a police complaint first.  A copy of such complaint needs to be attached to your request.

If you are requesting security freeze as a safety major, you need to pay some fees both while applying and removing the freeze.

The credit bureaus should work on your request within three business days from the date of receipt.  Once they place your credit report under a freeze, they should send you a written confirmation within five business days.  While sending such confirmation, they will send you a personal identification number or a password which can be used for requesting the removal. If you misplace such password, you can request for a new one but you will have to pay additional fees.

During the period of the freeze, if a new creditor requests for your report to the bureau, it will not provide any information but inform the creditor that a freeze is in force. Even your prospective employer cannot check your report during the freeze. However, the companies with whom you are doing business before requesting security freeze can get access during the freeze.  They can still send you promotional offers!

You can ask for a copy of your credit report even though the freeze is in force.  Certain government agencies will also have an access to your credit report during security freeze.

If you want to apply for a fresh credit or if you feel that the risk of identity theft is no more, you can request for a temporary or permanent lifting of the freeze.  This can be done by a writing a letter, making a call or sending an e-mail or a fax. You need to pay a fee with your request.

You can request for a freeze and its removal any number of times by paying necessary fees. However, you should do it only in emergencies. Security freeze is a very sharp tool and you should use it only in exceptional circumstances.