Fortunately, protecting yourself from harmful credit activity isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you know you’re not going to apply for a new card or loan anytime soon, there is something free and easy you can do to stop bad actors from wreaking havoc under your name: freeze your credit.
Freezing your credit takes 30 to 45 minutes and can secure your credit profile while giving you peace of mind. When your credit is frozen, scammers cannot open new accounts in your name, even if they have your personal information. No third party can access your credit when it is frozen; only you can still access your credit report (but you cannot apply for new credit).
Freezing your credit is a good idea for everyone, regardless of your credit rating, because it prevents unauthorized access to your credit report. Borrowers with perfect credit scores have frozen their credit for years to avoid identity fraud. And during a time of economic uncertainty, a credit freeze can provide some sort of financial control when you’re worried about your credit score.
You can always unfreeze your credit by calling the three major credit bureaus or checking their websites. You will need to thaw your credit each time you apply for a credit card or loan. This adds an extra step, but it can be useful if you’re worried about borrowing more than you should.
An option if you don’t want to freeze your credit
Credit monitoring is a service which monitors your credit history and automatically alerts you of changes to your credit reports, helping you be proactive before someone steals or misuses your personal information.
We’ve ranked our top picks for paid and free credit monitoring services. Our pick for the best overall free service was CreditWise® from Capital One, while IdentityForce® took first place for the number one paid service. Others ranked included Experian Free Credit Monitoring, Privacy Guard ™, Experian IdentityWorks℠, and FICO® Advanced.
Before choosing the right credit monitoring service for you, review everything the service offers. A free service can only track one credit report and only has basic alerts for things like new credit applications and new accounts, while a paid service reviews your three credit reports with each. different offices and notifies you of much more, such as changes in your balance, credit usage and dormant accounts.
Learn more about the best credit monitoring services.
CreditWise® de Capital One
Information on CreditWise has been independently collected by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the company prior to posting.
To learn more about IdentityForce®, visit their website or call 855-979-1118.
Editorial note: The opinions, analyzes, criticisms or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the editorial staff of CNBC Select and have not been reviewed, endorsed or endorsed by any third party.