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When/if to freeze credit?
Old 09-10-2014, 08:49 AM   #1
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When/if to freeze credit?

My wife is pushing me to freeze our credit after we open a 2nd banking account (I want to keep our Wells Fargo because of grandfathered free trading in the stock account there).

She is concerned over all of the recent hacks (Home Depot, Target). We will be traveling around the country and will not have a super reliable source of physical mail (except some forwarding service). Our current credit scores are fairly high (around 819).

Worth the hassle to freeze our credit so no new accounts can be opened without our knowledge?
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Old 09-10-2014, 09:23 AM   #2
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"fairly high", hehe!

I've had my credit frozen, for no specific purpose, for well over five years.

When I applied for a Discover card, I asked which agency they used (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) and they couldn't or didn't tell me. So I had to unfreeze all three. Since in the past I had trouble with unfreezing for one entity (i.e. would it be "Discover" or "Discover Card Services", etc), I just unfroze all three for a couple of weeks. That worked fine.

They also have a process where you can get some kind of code from the credit bureau, give that to the company seeking to access your credit, and they use that to access the frozen file. That process did NOT work for me (thus, I just do a "temporary thaw" nowadays).

Earlier, I had tried to open an Internet bank account, and I was never able to get through that process. I suspect (with about a 50-50 chance) that this was due to frozen credit files.

Freezing your credit does NOT affect those security questions that are sometimes used to "make sure it's you" (like "which of these counties did you used to live in", and "what model car did you once have", etc).

By the way, freezing credit would not prevent you from being subject to the Home Depot vulnerability. That's theft of your credit card information, which they leverage directly without opening credit in your name. Not that they couldn't leverage that information to open credit in your name, but that's not the direct exploit.

Here is a freeze/thaw guide:
http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clar...aw-guide/nFbL/
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Old 09-10-2014, 09:56 AM   #3
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I have frozen them before and it was a big hassle to unfreeze. One of the agencies had never sent me the code that I would need to unfreeze and what a nightmare that has been to try and get a new one. I unfroze two of them last year and I think the third without the code will be thawed out this year. I won't be freezing them again
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:25 AM   #4
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How timely. I just froze my credit at 2 of the credit bureaus yesterday. The third one requires that you send the request in by paper mail so that letter will go out today.
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:29 AM   #5
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I have my accounts frozen. It is a minor hassle thawing them so I try to look ahead and do any financial activities that require thawing in a few weeks. I can thaw my accounts in 20 minutes online. I usually set the thaw to last for 1-3 weeks, then the accounts are automatically refrozen.

Compared to the problems of having fraudulent accounts setup in my name, freezing and thawing are not difficult at all. And, I sleep much better despite all of the thefts of personal information we hear about on an almost weekly basis.

Face it, the only defense we have is to freeze our credit accounts. The credit monitoring services only tell us that the horse has already left the barn.
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:29 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by razztazz View Post
How timely. I just froze my credit at 2 of the credit bureaus yesterday. The third one requires that you send the request in by paper mail so that letter will go out today.
This must be a new requirement because I froze my credit with all three bureaus online a couple of years ago.
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:35 AM   #7
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Yes, they do seem to diddle with their rules. I had a freeze done like 10 or 12 yrs ago and I recall doing it over the phone NOT SPEAKING to a human being. Just "press -1- for this or -2- for that. Removing the freeze from 2 of them was done online. The 3rd one wanted it via paper mail and that took repeated attempts for it to take hold.
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Old 09-10-2014, 12:25 PM   #8
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I have had no issue with my credit being frozen. I *just* opened an account with Navy Federal (see thread on 5% CD) and only had to answer a few questions that I would be familiar with on my file.

I also applied for an Amex Platinum card (don't worry...the exorbitant $450 annual fee was waived since I am an active duty military dude) and told me it was frozen. I asked which agency they pulled from so I could go unfreeze it. The rep told me that if I provide the unfreeze PIN, she could do it right there and it is good for only them and only once...it was quite painless.

The last time I had to do it (some other card with a great cash back offer), they to told me which agency...I jumped online, did a one week thaw and was done. I have had absolutely NO issues, so I would recommend doing it...it is some peace of mind. Much more so than the scam that "Life Lock" is!
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Old 09-10-2014, 07:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Fermion View Post
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Worth the hassle to freeze our credit so no new accounts can be opened without our knowledge?
Yes, I think so.

We've had ours frozen for several years. The easiest unfreeze was with Chase Sapphire Visa, somehow they did it immediately over the phone for no fee. Another credit agency told us which one they used and I just temporarily unfroze it. We rarely go for a new credit source.

Only once when we refinanced the mortgage did I have to unfreeze all 3 agencies. It wasn't too much trouble, all done over the web about 2 years ago.
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Old 09-10-2014, 09:10 PM   #10
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Froze ours last week after I learned a hospital where I recently had testing done had an employee stealing personal information such as date of birth, addresses and social security numbers. Such a relief to not have a panic attack every time I watched the news. Unfreezing will be painless when compared to the possibility of identity theft.


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Old 09-11-2014, 12:32 AM   #11
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Froze probably 10 years ago. No problems. When I need to do a temporary thaw, it takes about 15 minutes or so.

When I hear that information has been stolen in the news I just smile knowing that I have my protection in place.

The only slight downside is that if you like to open up new accounts to take advantage of new account bonus promotions (ie cash, or miles etc.) , then the credit freeze will likely get in the way. I wait to be notified that the account cannot be opened without speaking to a human. Once I confirm that the credit freeze is the problem, I ask which credit bureau they use. I then do a temporary thaw at that bureau for 30 days, then call them back within the hour to inform them the the freeze has been lifted.

-gauss
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:58 AM   #12
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Froze mine nearly 10 years ago and unfroze once when I wanted a new CC. I don't worry about the data breaches since I know my cards are guaranteed. I did change my passwords and order new cards after the Target breach - but that was just because I was heading overseas and worried that the card companies might cancel cards en mass while I was traveling. Ordering new cards isn't a problem with a credit freeze in place.
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Old 09-13-2014, 01:38 PM   #13
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Worth the hassle to freeze our credit so no new accounts can be opened without our knowledge?
Maybe a better question would be whether your life would be worth living with an unhappy spouse...

I froze my Dad's credit-rating accounts when I took over his finances. I had to unfreeze them for a few days to set him up with an online Social Security account, and the unfreezing was no problem.

I'm about ready to freeze our own credit accounts, but we realize that we might have to unfreeze them occasionally to apply for credit-card deals.
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