Identity theft is the worst. And sadly, it’s happening more and more these days. Now, it’s no longer a matter of if someone will try to steal your personal information—it’s a matter of when. In fact, 47% of Americans were victims of financial identity theft in 2020.1 That’s not okay! But there’s a way you can protect your info and lower the risk of strangers taking out credit in your name—by freezing your credit.
Just like Mr. Freeze from Batman, credit freezing can stop your enemies (aka fraudsters) in their tracks and keep them from doing more harm. Here’s what you need to know about how to freeze your credit so you can protect yourself and your loved ones from identity thieves.
What Is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze is a way to lower your risk of identity theft by locking others out of your credit report—think of it as storing your valuables in a safe. Most creditors (the people who loan you money) check your credit before letting you do things like buy a house, lease a car, or take out a loan. By freezing your credit, you can stop creditors from approving new accounts—which helps prevent random people from opening up new lines of credit in your name (without you knowing).
Of course, if your credit is frozen, that means you won’t be able to open a new account either (like to take out a mortgage). But you can always unfreeze your credit—or temporarily lift the freeze—whenever you want.