Credit Score Identity Theft

How to Lock Your Credit to Prevent Identity Theft

Eric Rosenberg
Written by Eric Rosenberg

If you are worried about the recent Equifax breach or just want to protect your credit in general, you have a few tools at your disposal to keep your credit safe from bad guys and hackers around the world. One of the most effective tools is a credit report lock. Let’s take a look at when you may want to lock your credit, how it works, and what it costs.

What is a credit report lock?

Locking your credit report is one of the strongest actions you can take against identity theft. However, a credit report lock is not free and can cause some inconveniences for you, so it should typically not be your Plan A unless you believe you are or are about to become a victim of identity theft.

When you lock your credit report , no one can open any new credit accounts. That includes both you and identity thieves who want to use your information to open an account. When your credit is locked, the only way to open a new account is to remove the lock or with a temporarily unlock. More on that in a minute.

Adding a lock, sometimes called a security freeze, on your credit reports, can be done at all three credit reporting bureaus. It does not impact your credit score. Most everyone is locked out of doing anything new with your credit, but existing lenders and some government agencies may still have access to your credit report.

How can you lock your credit?

Experian’s Credit Freeze Center Offers Several Options to Control Your Credit File

Locking your credit is easy. You can lock your credit online or by calling Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three major credit reporting companies, to have the lock added to your account. Keep in mind that while it was Equifax that caused the recent security breach that leaked 143 million Americans’ credit, that data can be used for identity theft at any bank, credit union, or other lender.

About the author

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer originally from Denver, Colorado living in Ventura, California. When away from the keyboard, Eric he enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers, and spending time with his wife and baby girl. You can connect with him at his own finance blog Personal Profitability.

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