Credit Freeze Information
Credit experts recommend that consumers freeze their credit to reduce their risk of becoming an identity theft victim. This has to be done individually with each of the “Big Three” credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), plus some experts also recommend doing a freeze with a lesser-known credit reporting agency called Innovis to “cover all the bases.” That means making 4 separate freeze requests per person or 8 requests for a couple.
By freezing your credit, you prevent potential creditors from accessing your credit file, thereby preventing identity thieves from opening accounts in your name. However, credit freezes will not deter non-credit related frauds such as tax refund identity theft and health insurance fraud. For that, consumers are simply told to “be vigilant.”
Credit freeze requests can be made online, by phone, or by certified U.S. mail. Expect to devote some time to this task. Below is contact information for each credit reporting agency for each method of contact to request a credit freeze:
Equifax: Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian: Experian, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Innovis: Innovis Customer Assistance, P.O. Box 26, Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0026
The costs of security freezes vary from state to state. Fees may or may not be charged to add a credit freeze, temporarily
lift (thaw) a credit freeze (e.g., when you need to apply for a loan), and remove a credit freeze. Different fees for credit
freezes may also apply depending on whether someone is or is not a victim of identity theft.
For mailed security freeze requests, include the following information in a cover letter format:
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE
In addition to the three national credit bureaus, there are credit-scoring companies. Fair, Isaac makes the FICO score, which is by far the most widely tested and used by creditors. You can purchase your score or learn more with scoring simulators at https://www.myfico.com. Scores can range from 300 to 850. The higher the score, the better the credit rating. Generally, any score above 700 indicates a good credit risk, and below 650 is a problem. Remember, you can work to improve your score, no matter how low it is right now.
Reasons Your Score May Be Lowered
FICO Has Disclosed the General Structure of How Their Model Scores
35% = payment history (have you paid on time, especially over past two years)
30% = amounts owed (how much owed total, and how much in relation to credit limits)
15% = length of credit history (how long you’ve had accounts, how long since used)
10% = new credit (how many new accounts and how many new inquiries)
10% = types of credit used (healthy mix of loans, bankcards, store cards, no sub-prime)
Things You Can Do to Build Good Credit to Boost Your Score
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