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Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
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Lampwick Offline
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Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
With the recent Equifax breach, I thought it would be a good time to share some detailed information on one of the best and cheapest ways to protect yourself from identity fraud. This information applies to those in the United States. I'm not sure about other countries.

What is a Credit Security Freeze?

A Credit Security Freeze locks your credit file with one of the major credit bureaus. This makes it impossible in most cases to open a new line of credit under your identity.

Why do a Credit Security Freeze?

Freezing your credit files with the major credit bureaus prevents one of the most common and impactful means of identify fraud: thieves opening new lines of credit. In many cases, the victim has no knowledge of the fraud until after thousands of dollars worth of charges have been made, and his credit has been severely damaged.

Freezing your credit is the preferred method to prevent this, because other methods of security are not as effective, or are more expensive:
  • Credit bureau fraud alerts - free, but dependent on the creditor to respect them, and normally they have to be renewed every 90 days.
  • Credit monitoring, Lifelock, etc. - reactive instead of preventative, and often more expensive.

How do I do a Credit Security Freeze?

Visit the following pages for each of the major credit bureaus.

Experian
Equifax
Transunion
Innovis
ChexSystems

I recommend placing a freeze on your file with each of the major credit bureaus. This costs about $10 per credit bureau. Each credit bureau will give you a PIN that can be used to temporarily lift or permanently remove the freeze on your credit file. Do not lose this PIN. I recommend keeping the PINs in secure storage. I use and recommend LastPass for this purpose.

How do I do apply for credit when I have a Credit Security Freeze in place?

Here is my method:
  • Apply for credit as you normally would.
  • The creditor will typically send you a letter that tells you that they couldn't pull your file from X credit bureau.
  • Visit the appropriate website above to do a temporary freeze lift of your credit file for that bureau for a short period of time, such as two weeks. You will need the PIN for this. This costs about $10 for each bureau, but normally creditors only pull one.
  • Call the creditor and tell them that you lifted the freeze on your credit file and ask them to pull your file again. The creditor will often tell you to wait 24-48 hours from the freeze lift, but in my experience, the freeze lift applies almost instantly.
  • After the temporary freeze lift expires, your credit will be automatically frozen again, and you don't need to do anything.

Does a Credit Security Freeze protect you against all identify fraud?

No. There are other methods of identify fraud, but a Credit Security Freeze eliminates the biggest attack vector.

Are there any downsides to a Credit Security Freeze?

It can be a pain to lift the freeze sometimes if you move more frequently. The credit bureaus have a physical address on file, and you have to provide the matching address when lifting the Credit Security Freeze. So, you should keep records of your previous addresses and try entering each one until the freeze lift works.
(This post was last modified: 09-09-2017 07:07 PM by Lampwick.)
09-09-2017 06:59 PM
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John Michael Kane Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
Solid datasheet. I've been recommending the same thing in the Equifax Breach thread I created. I've linked this thread in my Credit Datasheet in my signature. Rep +1 from me for contributing. Welcome to the forums!

John Michael Kane's Datasheets: Master The Credit Game: Save & Make Money By Being Credit Savvy
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09-09-2017 07:02 PM
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Lampwick Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
Thanks John Michael Kane! I'm a big fan of the forum, so I'm happy that I could give something back.
09-09-2017 08:06 PM
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5-7 Hedonist Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
Good datasheet, thanks.
09-10-2017 07:50 AM
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choothia Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
Any suggestions if some of the credit bureaus are unable to place a credit freeze?

For example, Transunion says "the website is having issues" when one attempts to place a freeze.

Even worse, Experian asks one to verify past phone numbers, addresses and contacts (incorrectly) mined from who knows where on the Internet. After you answer that the multiple choices it gives you to verify your identity are not applicable, you get the response that they are unable to verify you and therefore you'll have to snail mail a bunch of your information (incl copies of your drivers license, and other personal info) to them.

What a bunch of sh*t. Seems the US credit bureaus are being run by a bunch of toddlers who have no clue about the systems and data that they're dealing with.

Any suggestions?
(This post was last modified: 09-10-2017 01:45 PM by choothia.)
09-10-2017 01:44 PM
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Goldin Boy Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
Damn the newbies are coming out swinging this month!

Really needed this info and everyone else does too. Thanks. +1.

(08-18-2016 12:05 PM)dicknixon72 Wrote:  ...and nothing quite surprises me anymore. If I looked out my showroom window and saw a fully-nude woman force-fucking an alligator with a strap-on while snorting xanex on the roof of her rental car with her three children locked inside with the windows rolled up, I wouldn't be entirely amazed.
(This post was last modified: 09-10-2017 02:00 PM by Goldin Boy.)
09-10-2017 01:59 PM
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Lampwick Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
(09-10-2017 01:44 PM)choothia Wrote:  Any suggestions if some of the credit bureaus are unable to place a credit freeze?

For example, Transunion says "the website is having issues" when one attempts to place a freeze.

Even worse, Experian asks one to verify past phone numbers, addresses and contacts (incorrectly) mined from who knows where on the Internet. After you answer that the multiple choices it gives you to verify your identity are not applicable, you get the response that they are unable to verify you and therefore you'll have to snail mail a bunch of your information (incl copies of your drivers license, and other personal info) to them.

What a bunch of sh*t. Seems the US credit bureaus are being run by a bunch of toddlers who have no clue about the systems and data that they're dealing with.

Any suggestions?

There are a couple different issues you may be encountering:

1. There may be some kind of data issue with your credit file. For example, with Transunion I recently had trouble pulling my free annual credit report. I called them, and they said that I had a "split file", meaning that my credit file had been conflated with someone else that shares my name. This other person happens to have really bad credit, which was causing my credit score to drop about 100 points. To resolve the issue I had to do the following:
  • Call the Disputes department.
  • Insist on talking to a supervisor.
  • Insist on talking to another supervisor, this time someone in the U.S.
  • Receive dispute confirmation in the mail, wait 30 days for the issue to be resolved.

I would call them and describe the problem you're having. When escalating an issue like this, you always want to call from 9 am to 5 pm, usually in Eastern time, but not always. Companies often have regular phone support overseas, but supervisors in the U.S. who have authority to do certain things. Also, you always want to be polite, but firm. Don't curse, don't lose your temper, don't take any emotional bait from the phone reps. Always get the first name and last initial of the person that helped you, or employee ID number and confirmation number. To figure out which phone number to call, Google "get human" and then the name of the company you're trying to reach.

2. The answers you're providing to the validation questions don't match what they have on file. Often times, they will present you with purposefully bogus information, and "None of the above" is the correct answer. Other times, they ask you questions from a really long time ago (e.g., "who was the lender on X student loan"). From what I've seen, all of this information comes from your credit file. You may want to try again to see if you get different questions.

If you haven't pulled a copy of your credit report in a while, I would recommend using annualcreditreport.com. But, you may run into the same validation questions. If you're unable to answer these correctly, I would try to freeze/pull the report via their phone system, and as a last resort send a request by mail. The latter is necessary in some cases.

You are 100% correct about the credit bureaus. They are a crystallized example of what happens when the free market is not allowed to run its course. Dinosaur technology, incompetent and indifferent employees, and slapdash handling of life and death personal information. Dealing with them is the advanced level of customer service warfare. Good luck.
09-10-2017 09:56 PM
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5-7 Hedonist Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
Do we know if putting a freeze in place affects one's FICO scores in any way?

Does it lower your score, directly or indirectly?

Does it prevent any of the major credit card companies from providing their monthly free FICO score, such as Discover Card does each month?
09-15-2017 03:41 PM
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John Michael Kane Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
A credit freeze doesn't affect credit scores at all, nor does it affect your ability to pull your score. Freeze it if you aren't apply for credit.

John Michael Kane's Datasheets: Master The Credit Game: Save & Make Money By Being Credit Savvy
Boycott these companies that hate men: King's Wiki Boycott List

Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value. -Albert Einstein
09-15-2017 05:36 PM
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Shimmy Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
Credit freeze is probably the best thing you can do. If your identity is stolen do a higher level of credit freeze where you have to unlock it by writing a letter. I had mine stolen and they somehow called up and conned the people on the phone to unlock it without the pin number. I can't imagine it was very hard as they have their call center in India and the people on the phone sound like they are reading the directions off of a script.
09-16-2017 05:12 AM
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Lampwick Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
Heads up. Equifax and Transunion have updated their websites, so that you can freeze and unfreeze your credit reports without a PIN.

The good news is that it's now a lot easier to freeze and unfreeze your credit file (and free thanks to new legislation).

The bad news is that now identity thieves can bypass PIN verification and unfreeze your credit report if they set up accounts for your credit file before you do. It's another security catastrophe from these companies.

I recommend creating accounts on both sites as soon as possible to avoid this type of attack:

Equifax

Transunion
(This post was last modified: 03-09-2019 05:48 PM by Lampwick.)
03-09-2019 05:47 PM
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
After the big breach, I tried to freeze my credit on the Equifax site. Their web site locked up midway through the process, but apparently after freezing my report and assigning me a PIN, which I never received.

Fast-forward 18 months and now I anticipate applying for a loan in the near future, so I need to get my Equifax reporft freeze lifted. The web site says I can lift it without the PIN. Great, as I never received the damned PIN. To lift the freeze, however, I have to create an account on the Equifax site. No problem, right? Wrong. Equifax says they can't positively identify me based on my responses to the security questions -- please call us.

I call in, and the Indian ESL guy says they still cannot identify me. So now my Equifax report is frozen, and I cannot lift the freeze until I fax them a cover letter with copies of my DL and SS card.

What a pain in the ass, all because of their breach screwup and shitty web site.
03-10-2019 01:17 PM
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Lampwick Offline
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RE: Credit Security Freeze Datasheet
(03-10-2019 01:17 PM)JayR Wrote:  To lift the freeze, however, I have to create an account on the Equifax site. No problem, right? Wrong. Equifax says they can't positively identify me based on my responses to the security questions -- please call us.

You may be able to start over and try to answer another set of questions again. It's possible some of the questions they're asking are about information so old that the answers may not be obvious. A common one is when they ask you the servicing company for one of your student loans. I had to guess on that one, but I must've picked correctly.
03-10-2019 02:46 PM
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