Your identity and financial health may be in danger. Stats show that more than 14 million people were affected by identity fraud last year, with losses reaching a colossal $16.9 billion in 2019.
Moreover, every two seconds, one person becomes a victim of identity theft in the United States. These numbers should be a little wake-up call to safeguard your personal and banking information.
Interestingly enough, many Americans think that this type of criminal activity is rare, even though the statistics above show a different picture. Overall, these breach activities increased by 17% in 2019.
The process of recovering from identity theft can be complicated and long-winding. However, the good news is that locking your credit can safeguard you and your information from prying eyes.
How To Lock Credit?
Quite often, your confidential details such as your credit card number, and credentials, etc. are exposed to cyber thieves. If they can get enough of your personal information, they can pretend to be you.
Unbeknownst to you, they can get loans and indulge in illegal activity using your credentials, getting you in financial and legal situations that require time and resources to resolve.
Many Americans have been the victim of identity theft in one way or another, and the emotional distress that follows is often unbearable. Therefore, it is imperative to have safety nets in place to secure your financial journey. If you are already a victim or worried about becoming one, it’s time to consider your options.
Start by putting a credit lock or a credit freeze on your credit file to protect yourself from scammers.
It can help you protect your identity from unauthorized users and prevent them from opening accounts with your information.
Why Would You Need To Lock Your Credit?
A credit lock prevents unauthorized users from accessing your credit file. It helps ensure that your credit is fully protected, and for that, you need to approach the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and lock your files with them.
Credit locks prevent violators from using your social security number to open accounts in your name, apply for lines of credit or use your credit cards.
If you have been a target of identity theft or fear becoming one in the future, it is a sound decision to lock your credit, especially when you are not using it. Credit locks keep your information safe from unauthorized people and helps protect you in case of data breaches.
All in all, a credit lock is a preventive measure that can protect and maintain the confidentiality of your sensitive credit information. You can also use a credit lock when you have a data theft or breach risk. This way, you can let lenders access your credit report and then instantly lock the file again.
Locking Your Credit vs. Freezing Your Credit
Are you wondering about how to lock credit or freeze it? Well, for that, you need to have a clear idea about credit lock and credit freeze.
Although the terms “credit lock” and “credit freeze” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Both are mechanisms that make it difficult for violators to commit fraudulent activities and alleviate the risk of identity fraud, but they do it in different ways.
But how are a credit lock and a credit freeze precisely different from each other?
|Credit Lock||Credit Freeze|
|Cost||• Experian CreditLock: Free 7-day trial, then $24.99 /month|
• Equifax Lock & AlertTM: Free
• TransUnion Credit Lock Plus: $24.95/month
|• Experian: Free|
• Equifax: Free
• TransUnion: Free
|How long does it take?||Typically, right away. |
But some credit bureaus may take up to 48 hrs.
|Up to five business days|
|Does it hurt your credit?||No||No|
|Main benefits||Subscribers can immediately activate or deactivate your credit through an application or online Built-in fraud protection features that prevent deceitful activities||Free of cost Freeze yours and your dependents’ credit to guard against fraud|
|Drawbacks||You’ll need to pay a small fee||You have to call and request the service from Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax.|
How To Lock Your Credit File
You can easily activate and deactivate the credit lock via a mobile app or online on your smartphone with the login details, i.e., a username and a password. It lets you quickly lock and unlock your credit reports while keeping your file safe from theft risks.
The procedures and steps to set up credit-locking services with the three credit bureaus vary. Here’s the rundown of how each bureau’s credit lock services work and how to sign up for them.
Experian’s CreditLock program is a part of Experian CreditWorks Premium, which costs $24.99/month after a 7-day free trial.
The CreditLock program offers the following benefits:
- Monthly access to all three bureaus’ credit reports
- Alerts of any new or suspicious credit activity from all three bureaus
- Identity theft insurance up to $1 million
- Expert consultation to navigate the intricacies of credit fraud
Equifax’s Lock and Alert program protects your credit report against identity fraud and easily lets you lock or unlock the report. This service is completely free.
The Lock and Alert program offers the following benefits:
- Gives access to credit reports
- Credit report lock and unlock notifications
- Easily lock and unlock
- Intuitive and user-friendly app
TransUnion’s Credit Lock Plus lets you control your credit reports and restrict the violators from unauthorized access to your data.
The Credit Lock Plus program offers the following benefits:
- Gives access to TransUnion and Equifax credit reports
- Identity theft insurance up to $1 million
- Lock and unlock via phone or computer
These top credit bureaus also have several other products and plans that facilitate credit lock services.
A credit lock is one of the most effective ways to prevent scammers from exploiting your identity. It’s also a relatively fast, painless way to lock and unlock the lender’s access from your credit reports.
Of course, a credit lock doesn’t guarantee to eliminate the risk, but it does mitigate the threats and protects you from credit fraud and identity theft.
If you have any credit-related concerns or want to restructure your credit, you can count on MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Loan. It can help you get cash in hand, increase your savings, and enhance your credit score by 60 points in 60 days. All with no credit check.
Building credit has never been easier – restart your credit journey with MoneyLion!