Q:

How do you freeze your credit files?

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Quick Answer

To freeze your credit files to protect them from identity theft, contact your state attorney general office to query about the cost of initiating a credit file freeze, reports the Federal Trade Commission. Then contact each of the three main credit reporting companies of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion; request the credit file freeze; and pay the state fee. Along with a confirmation letter, each company sends you a password or PIN that you need to lift the freeze.

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Full Answer

As long as a credit freeze is in effect, it locks out access to your credit files to new inquirers, explains the Federal Trade Commission. Existing creditors, debt collectors and some government agencies may still be able to access your credit report. If you want to rent housing, buy insurance, apply for work, or open a new financial account, you must temporarily lift the freeze from at least one credit reporting company. The lead times and cost for lifting credit freezes vary from state to state. Even with a credit freeze, identity thieves may be able to access and manipulate your existing accounts, so it is imperative to monitor them for unauthorized activity.

Whether a freeze lasts indefinitely or has a time limit depends on state law, according to the Federal Trade Commission. A freeze does not negatively impact your credit score, and you can still obtain your free annual credit report during a credit freeze. To remove the freeze, contact each of the three credit reporting companies.

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