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I live in the U.S. and am interested in learning more about "freezing" one's credit report.

When one freeze's a credit report for a particular bureau, does that prevent new creditors from adding accounts to it, or existing creditors from making updates to it? Are there penalties/constraints to doing this (e.g. can only freeze once a year, etc.)?

Thanks in advance for any-and-all help!

  • "freezing" is a generic term, the big three bureaus essentially each have their own methods for dealing with "freezing" your report in different ways (i.e. locking vs just putting a fraud alert on it). If you care about the nitty gritty details you should ask the bureaus themselves. This link has a good overview: nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/… – dwizum Nov 7 at 21:21
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Freezing your credit report prevents hard pulls. That means that neither you nor an identity thief posing as you could open a new account (assuming the account provider does a hard pull which would be the case the vast majority of the time). It has no impact on existing creditors continuing to report activity on your existing accounts. It also doesn't prevent soft pulls for things like sending you junk mail for new credit cards.

There is no limit to the number of times you can freeze your report. But it may take several days to process the request so you'd need to plan ahead to unfreeze your report if you're going to apply for a new loan (or get a new phone or apply for a job that requires a credit pull or apply for car insurance if your insurer gives a discount for a high credit score). And it's a hassle to contact all three credit bureaus each time you want to do this.

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    Correction: "Neither you nor an identity thief posing as you could cause a pull (hard or soft) with the purpose of opening a new account". Some institutions will open an account anyway. – Ben Voigt Nov 7 at 19:00
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    @BenVoigt - Fair enough. I don't know of a case where someone would open a reportable credit account without doing a credit pull but I guess I'm not completely shocked that such a thing exists. – Justin Cave Nov 7 at 19:06
  • and an identity thief can probably unfreeze it by posing as you on the phone, and knowing some personal data. so it's a lot of hassle for little gain. – Aganju Nov 7 at 19:22

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