Q:

Do you need to freeze your credit report at all three credit bureaus?

A:

Quick Answer

A consumer who wishes to have a credit freeze placed on their account should institute freezes with each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Otherwise, the potential for identity theft may still exist.

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Full Answer

A credit freeze prevents creditors from accessing your credit report through any of the three major credit agencies. After you institute a credit freeze, loans or new lines of credit cannot be approved without your consent.

Because lenders may seek to retrieve credit information from any of the three credit reporting bureaus when determining whether to extend or grant you credit, you should institute freezes with all three of the credit reporting bureaus. Otherwise, lenders may simply seek information from the single or multiple credit bureaus with which you did not institute a freeze.

Freezing your credit is one step you can take to protect your identity if you believe that any of your personal information has been compromised through one of the three major credit agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

To begin the process of placing a freeze on your credit report, contact the three major credit reporting companies by phone, and be prepared to provide your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. Experts recommend contacting these companies by phone, as initiating a credit freeze online can make your personal information more vulnerable to identity theft. Depending on what state you live in, there will be a $5 to $10 fee paid to each reporting company to initiate the freeze

Once your credit is frozen, you will be unable to apply for a loan, a credit card, or anything else that will require someone else to access your credit report. If you do need to lease a car or apply for a credit line increase, you will need to temporarily lift the freeze. Each credit company will provide you with a pin you can use for this purpose.

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