By now, you might have heard about
freezes. A credit freeze prevents credit bureaus
from releasing your credit report or score to new lenders,
insurers and other new service providers.
The credit freeze often gets confused
with the fraud
alert, which tells new creditors that the consumer
may have been a victim of fraud and asks creditors to
take additional verification steps before issuing credit.
A credit freeze won't remove you from
prescreened offers for credit and insurance lists, for
instance. The fraud alert does that. They also aren't
available to all consumers. As of this writing, states
determine whether their residents may freeze their credit
files and in which circumstances. Anyone can raise a
To set the credit record straight, we
spoke with the credit industry about some of the biggest
assumptions and added a few other questions we thought
were important to clear up. Clearing the fog of confusion
that hangs over credit freezes, here are the answers
to some of the mistaken beliefs fluttering around.
May you be a little wiser about protecting
your credit file from identity thieves.
|14 myths about credit freeze: |
Anyone can freeze his or her credit files.
No, anyone can initiate a fraud alert, but only residents
states have the right to freeze their credit. Some
state laws restrict credit-freeze rights to identity
theft victims. So far, no federal law bestows credit-freeze
rights on all consumers. Residents of states with no
credit-freeze laws in effect can only use fraud alerts
if they are concerned about identity theft.
reports cannot get updated during a credit freeze.
Think about it
-- that just doesn't make sense. "An un-updated report wouldn't be useful
to anybody," says Norm Magnuson, vice president of public affairs for the
Consumer Data Industry Association. That would mean your report could potentially
be frozen in time for years, he says. People with file freezes still have to pay
their bills on time.
Apartment providers can still run a credit check during a file freeze.
An apartment application is treated like a new credit
account, says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public
affairs for Experian. New creditors cannot access your
credit file during a credit freeze. Then again, a credit
check may not affect your ability to rent an apartment.
It depends on your landlord's criteria for apartment
rental approvals, says David Rubinger, Equifax's vice
president of communications. Check with the company
first to see if it requires a credit check before granting
new apartment rentals.
If a credit check denial will cost you
the apartment, unfreeze your credit file in advance of applying -- it can take
up to three days for the freeze to thaw. Ask the apartment staff which credit-reporting
agency they use for credit checks and unfreeze the credit file kept by that bureau.