(October 1, 2019) WEV’s Smart Money: It’s October in California…are you Freezing yet?
Last month (September) was National Preparedness month and one of the tips we included in our Preparedness postcard was Freezing Your Credit. I heard from many people that they didn’t actually know what this meant…which made the choice for this month’s article fairly clear!
So what exactly does it mean to Freeze Your Credit, and why can it be a useful practice?
Contrary to what you might think, credit freezing has no impact on your ability to use existing credit accounts. Instead, what it does is prevent any new credit accounts from being opened in your name without your knowledge, which can be an important safeguard against identity theft and fraud.
To freeze your credit, you will need to separately contact each of the three credit agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They each have online pages from where you can initiate the credit freeze and you will need to action each credit freeze individually. There is no cost to freeze your credit.
As part of setting up your credit freeze, you will create a pin number, which you can then use to temporarily unfreeze your account if you do need to open a new credit account, or give an agency access to your credit report (e.g. for a new loan, credit card or background check).
For children under the age of 16, the credit freeze will need to be done by mail, as additional printed documents are required to be submitted.
Each of the three credit agency’s websites contains further useful information about this topic and I encourage you to take the time to familiarize yourself with the process. Your identity will thank you!
Introducing WEV’s Smart Money. Each month, WEV’s Business Resilience Specialist, Nicki Parr will share insights and tips to help small business owners feel more cash-confident and economically empowered. If you have a finance-related question that you would like answered, email Nicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.