Blog posted On January 16, 2019
With cybersecurity of the utmost concern, all major credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – offer free credit freezes for consumers who believe they are at risk. A credit freeze prevents lenders from accessing your credit report, with the intention of stopping a thief from opening fraudulent lines of credit with your personal information. While a credit freeze can protect you in the case of a stolen identity or other stolen personal information, it will also prevent legitimate lenders, like your mortgage lender, from accessing your credit report to complete a mortgage application for a new home purchase or mortgage refinance.
In September 2018, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was passed, and as a result all three credit reporting bureaus are required to grant consumers the ability to freeze and unfreeze their credit reports for free. Before this legislation, consumers had to pay a fee each time they needed to freeze and unfreeze their credit report with each credit reporting bureau. In addition to removing the cost of the credit freeze, credit reporting bureaus must now respond within one hour if contacted by phone or online, making it easier than ever to keep your credit safe, especially if you suspect you are the victim of a hack or identity theft.
Many consumers believe your lender can unfreeze a credit report on their behalf, but this is not true. Only you can authorize a freeze or unfreeze on your credit report. If you have minor children, you can also freeze or unfreeze their credit report as a parent or guardian. When your credit is frozen and you are applying for a new purchase mortgage or refinance, let your lender know. Usually, the lender will need to pull your credit report twice during the mortgage financing transaction. Once, when you are getting preapproved to verify you are a viable candidate for mortgage financing, and again before your loan closes to confirm you have not opened any new lines of credit or incurred any new debts. If your credit is currently frozen, ask your lender to let you know when they plan on pulling your credit report, and then you can contact the credit bureaus ahead of time and freeze your credit report again once they have the information that they need.
If you are suspicious of fraudulent activity on your credit report, and need to freeze your credit, follow the links below.
For Equifax: Visit this link
For Experian: Visit this link
For TransUnion: Visit this link
You can also call the bureaus or submit your request in writing. If you choose to do so in writing, you will have to wait longer than if you submit your request online or over the phone. If you have any questions about a new purchase or refinance while your credit is frozen, please let me know.