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Does Freezing Your Credit Hurt Your Credit Score?

Freezing your credit won’t hurt your score, but it will keep an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name.
Sept. 10, 2018
Credit Score, Personal Finance
Does Freezing Your Credit Hurt Your Credit Score?
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A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is the surest way to keep an identity thief from establishing a new account in your name.

A credit freeze does not affect your credit score, but it can keep you from being approved for a new credit card or a loan. It can also keep you from being able to check your score if you have not already signed up to monitor your credit. In other words, it cuts off access to your credit files for everyone — including you.

A fraud alert, which sounds similar, is not as drastic as a freeze. It lets potential creditors know that extra steps should be taken to verify your identity before extending credit. In most cases, a fraud alert will last for a year, as of Sept. 21, when new regulations go into effect. As with a freeze, it won’t hurt your credit score.

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What a freeze does and does not do

A lender can’t check your credit until and unless you unfreeze your credit. That process should take just a few minutes, but you’ll need the PIN you used when you froze it.

A credit freeze won’t affect:

    • Any credit monitoring service, such as NerdWallet’s
    • Pre-screened offers of credit; you need to opt out separately from these solicitations
    • Any credit scores you receive with a credit card statement
    • Your ability to use your existing credit accounts — but that also means that if a thief makes charges on an existing account, a freeze won’t help you


Why a credit freeze does not damage your credit score

Although a freeze certainly sounds like it stops anything from happening, that’s not true.

Freezing your credit does not mean you cannot use credit; you still make loan and credit card payments as usual, and creditors continue to report your activity to credit bureaus.

Freezing your credit does not mean you cannot use credit; you still make loan and credit card payments as usual, and creditors continue to report your activity to credit bureaus.

Your credit score can and will change, because it is calculated from the data accumulating in your credit file. Building up positive information will help your score; paying on time and using credit lightly are the most important factors.  

The difference is that creditors who do not already have access to your credit data can get to it. That means if you apply for a credit card or loan without first unfreezing your credit, your application will likely be declined because the potential creditor can’t check your credit history to assess risk.

But it also means that you won’t get the small, temporary dip in score that can result from a “hard inquiry” when someone pulls your credit because you applied for a financial product.

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