Ask Money

Freeze it

Chris Farrell Feb 21, 2011

Question: I read that I can I initiate a credit freeze for $10 to each of the three bureaus. I also hear about the problems with identity theft. I have a credit card I seem happy about, pay cash for things like cars and houses. I do not exactly want more credit card offers. Why not just initiate a credit card freeze as a proactive measure? The worst thing seems that I could just reverse the process buy paying the $30 again. Warm regards, First Name: Mark, Coatesville, PA

Answer: Yes, a “credit freeze” or “security freeze” blocks access to your credit report. It’s a procedure designed to prevent credit and loans from being approved in your name without your consent. It’s a routine safety precaution–and a free option–for any victim of identity theft. Many consumers have also decided to take advantage of a security freeze.

The credit freeze fees are in the $5 to $10 range and they vary by state. For instance, in Pennsylvania you pay to each of the three major credit bureaus –Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — $10 to freeze the account. It takes a another $10 to temporarily thaw it. However, in Minnesota the comparable fee is $5.

Putting your credit report in cold storage won’t impact your credit score. It doesn’t prevent you from using your current credit card, either. It does take planning to thaw the accounts when you’re in the market for an auto loan or a home mortgage, perhaps a new job or a new insurance policy. But there’s no reason not to freeze it so long as the extra effort and extra expense is worth it to you.

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