Bottom Line Up Front
- A credit freeze restricts access to your credit reports, making it difficult for fraudsters to open accounts in your name.
- Servicemembers who want to protect their credit while deployed are entitled to place an Active Duty military alert, which lasts for 1 year.
- To freeze your credit, contact the major credit reporting agencies. If you want to monitor your credit without freezing it, consider a fraud alert or credit monitoring service.
Did you know you can freeze your credit to stop criminals from opening new accounts in your name? Whether you’re a victim of identity theft or concerned about a data breach, a credit freeze could help protect your records.
What’s a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, restricts access to your credit reports. This makes it difficult for anyone to open new accounts in your name, because lenders typically check your credit report before approving a loan. If your credit is frozen, the lender won’t have access to your credit report to make a decision on an application for credit. This protects you if thieves attempt to use your identity to apply for credit cards or other loans.
Important note: If your minor child has a credit report on file, consider freezing it to prevent ID theft in your child’s name.
How to Freeze Your Credit
You’ll need to contact each of the major credit reporting agencies to put a freeze on your credit reports:
- Equifax®: 1-888-298-0045 or equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
- Experian®: 1-888-397-3742 or experian.com/help
- TransUnion®: 1-888-909-8872 or transunion.com/credit-freeze
There’s no charge to freeze and unfreeze your credit. The credit freeze remains in place until you contact the 3 credit bureaus to remove it or temporarily lift it.
Important note: A credit freeze can prevent legitimate credit checks. You’ll need to remove or lift it temporarily if you’re applying for new credit, buying insurance, applying for a job, arranging for utility service or renting an apartment.
What a Credit Freeze Won’t Do
A credit freeze can stop the opening of new financial accounts, but it won’t protect you from fraud on your existing financial accounts. To help prevent fraud, monitor your financial statements regularly and order your free annual credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. Notify financial institutions and creditors immediately if you find suspicious activity and place a fraud alert on your records.
Remember—a credit freeze won’t stop your existing creditors or government agencies with lawful cause from viewing your records.
Credit Freeze vs. Fraud Alert vs. Credit Monitoring
If you want to monitor your credit without actually freezing your credit, you might consider using a fraud alert or credit monitoring service.
With a fraud alert, potential creditors can still see your credit report, but they must take steps to verify your identity before opening a new account.
Servicemembers who want to protect their credit while deployed are entitled to place an Active Duty military alert, which lasts for 1 year. To place a fraud alert or Active Duty military alert, notify one of the credit reporting agencies (see above), which will alert the other two.
Credit monitoring services notify you about changes to your credit reports, such as hard inquiries (when someone applies for credit in your name), new accounts opened in your name or changes to the address on your credit file.
We Can Help
If your Navy Federal Credit Union credit or debit card is lost or stolen, and you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact us immediately at our 24-hour service line, 1-888-842-6328. Visit our Security Center for more ways to protect your accounts and prevent identity theft.