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How to Freeze Your Credit (and When You Might Need To)

If you’re like most Americans, you probably rely on the internet to do everything from buying birthday presents and booking vacations to managing your bank account and paying bills.

But for every transaction you make, you’re trusting a company with some type of personal information. And even if you’re not making purchases online yourself, most corporate systems are still connected to the internet. All this means that your personal data is likely being stored in dozens, or maybe even hundreds, of online databases.

Learn More: How to Add Identity Theft Recovery Coverage to Your Policy

Data security is a hot topic these days – and rightfully so. With so many high-profile data breaches in the news, we all know that it’s possible for personal information to get into the wrong hands.

If you’re looking for an extra layer of protection, you may want to consider freezing your credit.

What Does it Mean to Freeze Your Credit?

A credit freeze prevents potential lenders from accessing your credit information. This means that even if a thief has your personal information, they won’t be able to open a new fraudulent account (like a loan, credit card or bank account) in your name.

Is a credit freeze right for you? Here are some points to consider:

  • It’s a trusted and secure step. If you know you’ve been affected by a data breach, a credit freeze is a reliable way to prevent new accounts from being opened in your name. It takes some work, but it will give you an added layer of protection.

  • It doesn’t prevent all risks of financial loss. A credit freeze will prevent the opening of new accounts. But if someone has gained access to existing credit card or bank account information, a credit freeze won’t help you. Be sure to take steps to protect your existing accounts. Regularly change your account passwords, cancel lost cards and carefully check your financial statements for fraudulent charges. Check with your credit card provider or bank to see if they provide text or email notifications for questionable activity.

  • It can slow things down. After freezing your credit, you’ll have to temporarily lift it before applying for a new account, which can take a few days. It can also delay other transactions that routinely require a credit check, like applying for a new job or signing up for a new mobile phone plan.

  • It’s free. In 2018, congress passed a law that now requires all three major credit bureaus to offer credit freezes for free. But to fully freeze your credit, you’ll need to apply with each bureau individually.

  • It can be done by phone or online. Call or submit your information online to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to request a credit freeze.

Identity Theft Recovery Support

A credit freeze is a great way to prevent someone from future abuse of your personal information. But in the event that your current accounts are compromised, it’s helpful to have some support to get things back to normal.

That’s where Identity Theft Recovery Coverage from Erie Insurance comes in. This coverage is designed to help you restore your credit in the event of identity theft or fraud. You’ll also get help from your own dedicated case manager who’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.

Better yet? The cost of Identity Theft Recovery Coverage is about $20 a year, and it can be added easily to an ERIE® homeowners or renters insurance policy. To get a quote, contact your local Erie Insurance agent.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.