Difference between Credit Freeze vs. Credit Lock vs. Fraud Alert

In today’s world of budding cybercrime, protecting your assets and information has never been as important. Different credit protection methods help you secure your credit report. And all three large credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – provide those three methods. You should know how to pick the method most suitable for you. So, do you know the difference between credit freeze vs. credit lock vs. fraud alert?

Let’s find out more about how to place them, their levels of protection, and their requirements. In other words, let’s find out more about how your credit score can stay as favorable as ever.

What’s a Credit Freeze?

A credit freeze stops credit lenders from accessing your credit report without authorization. It also prevents you – or anyone else – from opening a new credit account.

To use this option, you need to get in touch with each of the three bureaus. The credit freeze will remain until you use a PIN or a password-secured credit bureau account to unfreeze the account.

Bear in mind that there are some situations where you will likely have to lift the freeze. That is because credit card issuers and lenders want to see your credit history before approving a credit card or loan. Potential landlords and insurance companies will probably want to gain insight into the credit report and perform a credit check, as well.

You can lift a credit freeze (sometimes also called a ‘security freeze’) in no time if you have the required PIN or security password.

What Is a Fraud Alert?

A fraud alert is a sort of roadblock for cybercriminals. It makes it harder for them to open an account in your name. A fraud alert is a notice you put on your report, warning lenders (and other businesses) that they can’t open an account for you before taking some account verification steps. These steps ensure that the account is indeed for you and not someone faking to be you.

While a fraud alert is active, lenders and other businesses can still access your financial file. It’s just that they have a security roadblock that prevents them from opening an account in your name.

Credit Freeze vs. Credit Lock

What Is a Credit Lock?

A credit lock is similar to a credit freeze. The main difference is that it’s simpler to use than a security freeze. Besides that, it has the same impact on the credit report as a freeze.

With a credit lock, you can lock and unlock your account online or via a mobile app. All you need is identity verification information like usernames and passwords. Meanwhile, lifting a security freeze means verifying your identity each time you do so.

Credit Freeze vs. Credit Lock vs. Fraud Alert

A credit freeze is more severe and offers more legal protection than a credit lock and fraud alert.

A credit lock can seem like a more practical option since it’s easier to lift vs. a credit freeze. But bear in mind that the credit freeze has the benefit of usually coming with more legal security, making you safer in case of a breach.

And while a credit freeze and a credit lock stop lenders and businesses from viewing your credit report, a fraud alert doesn’t. That may suit you more or less. If you are actively seeking new credit, looking for a job, or a place to rent, then a fraud alert may seem like a better option. Having a credit freeze or lock while seeking credit asks for careful strategizing and planning.

One of the other main differences between credit freezes and fraud alerts is that, while a security freeze can stay in place as long as you want, a fraud alert has a set expiration date.

You’re not required to pick out one of the three options. They can be applied together as combined layers of security.

Inform Yourself About Your Options

We have covered the fundamentals of the three main credit security options. But each one of our living situations is unique and may have more use from one option than the other. Wondering which one suits you best? Is it a security freeze, a credit lock, or a fraud alert? Credit experts at companies such as White, Jacobs and Associates also act as advisers for those of you pondering these questions. If you don’t feel like being kept on hold while on call with credit bureaus, schedule your meeting with credit advisors today, and take a step further to a secure credit future.

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