The recent news about the Equifax data breach may have you concerned about possible identity theft. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to freeze your credit reports. This typically involves a fee, but you can do it for free with 2 of the 3 credit bureaus using these links!
Equifax is currently waiving all fees when you place a freeze on your Equifax credit report. You do not need to wait for your turn to sign up for TrustedID.
There is a fee for placing a freeze through TransUnion’s website. Instead, sign up for their TrueIdentity service which lets you place a freeze on your TransUnion credit report for free.
Unfortunately, if your state requires a fee for placing a credit freeze, I could not find a way to avoid it with Experian without a police report (if you know of way, leave me a comment!). So when you place a freeze with Experian, you may be subject to your state’s fee.
Free option: Place a fraud alert on your Experian credit report. It’s free and lasts for 90 days (and can be renewed). While it doesn’t freeze your credit report, it does request that financial institutions be more careful when opening a loan in your name and perform additional verifications. As an added bonus, Experian will also notify Equifax and TransUnion to place a fraud alert on your report.
Some things to keep in mind
- If you want to apply for credit (new credit card, refinance your home, etc), you must “unfreeze” your credit report. If you paid a fee to freeze it, you’ll likely need to pay the fee again to unfreeze it. Ask the lender which bureau they use (Equifax, TransUnion or Experian) and then only unfreeze that one bureau.
- If you already use a credit score monitoring service (like Credit Karma), freezing your credit report will still allow it to update. However, you may have difficulties registering for a new credit score service while your reports are frozen.
- Freezing your credit report still allows your banks to report your payment history, so you will still maintain a credit history and credit score.