Will a credit freeze mess up our lives?
September 20, 2008 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Should we put a freeze on our credit?

We got a letter from a bank which said they'd inadvertently compromised our identity by "misplacing" a disk containing all of our personal information. They are not certain it was stolen. They just can't find it. They have said they will pay for a credit freeze with all 3 major companies. Well and good. We put the freeze on one.

When we tried to put a freeze on Experian, their web site has many, many cautions. If you put a freeze on your credit, you may be unable to make internet purchases. You may be unable to purchase things with a credit card at point of sale. Blah blah blah.

We travel. We buy things on the internet. It would be disastrous not to be able to access our credit.

Will a credit freeze mess up our lives? Are these warnings more for their benefit than ours. Have any of you gone through this? Any info would be appreciated.
posted by clarkstonian to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
IF you do not plan on getting any loans or anything that requires a credit check then go right ahead. .

ONe of the credit agencies i think its experian requires everything done to go through the mail. no phone or online.

It took them 2 weeks to take the freeze that i put on off.

So if you dont need credit checks or anything then go ahead.
posted by majortom1981 at 6:33 AM on September 20, 2008

I love my credit freeze, really. My wallet was stolen a few years ago, and I used to get calls all the time from companies wanting me to unlock my freeze so they could process my 'cellphone application'. GOT YOU, JERKS! Really, there's no reason whatsoever to put off freezing your credit. It takes 15 minutes (and MAYBE 24 hours, but that hasn't been my experience) to temoprarily thaw credit. It never took more than until the next morning to thaw my credit. Experian, in my state (NJ) does NOT require you to do everything through mail, except the initial freeze. 'Cause you're a victim of ID theft, you'll probably be able to do it for free.

I never had any issues 'making a purchase on the internet' or 'with a card'. That's just silly BS the credit companies use since they can't get money from selling your data. The only thing you can't do is decide on a whim to open up a store charge account. Then, you must think ahead, and unfreeze a day in advance. Probably better to think over any credit applications for 24 hours anyway, right?

Seriously, just do it. I'm in the process of shopping for mortgages, and it's really, really painless to temporarily unfreeze.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 7:11 AM on September 20, 2008

I have been notified on two occasions that my personal data may have been compromised. Once by Lexus/Nexus back in '05 (along with several hundred thousand other folks), and then by my hospital. Lexus/Nexus immediately signed me up for a credit monitoring program with one of the credit agencies, and the hospital also did so with a minimal of prodding. In both cases I closely monitored my credit for any signs of suspicious activity, but nothing ever came of it. I now subscribe to Equifax's Credit Watch on my own dime, just in case.

If you are concerned about the hassle involved with freezing your credit, I think it would be worthwhile to press the bank to pay for a credit watch service.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 7:31 AM on September 20, 2008

How much do these services cost?
posted by jeffburdges at 8:43 AM on September 20, 2008

I had to freeze my credit on two occasions: one after my wallet was stolen and another when my ebay account was compromised and unauthorized charges were made on my credit card. Both times, life continued on as usual. I was able to get new credit cards, buy things online, take out student loans, etc.

You may encounter some extra security measures when doing any of this...but isn't that more comforting than annoying?
posted by ginagina at 9:02 AM on September 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

We froze our credit with all 3 agencies, just as a precaution after seeing some of the idiotic "oopsies" with various companies losing their clients' information. We haven't had any trouble with making credit card purchases, including online or over the phone.

(It cost $10 per account to freeze them and we sent the letters by certified mail as instructed, so that was another ~$3 each for postage.)
posted by Quietgal at 9:02 AM on September 20, 2008

Thanks all. We'll go ahead and freeze. It's $10 per company, as Quietgal says, but the bank involved is willing to refund those charges. They will pay to unfreeze once. We figured it was BS about the difficulties with using credit cards afterward, but thought it was better to ask than to find out the hard way.
posted by clarkstonian at 1:47 PM on September 20, 2008

You were a victim of identity theft. Check for your state in this list. If your state law calls for free freezes for ID theft victims, then call your local PD, file a police report (you can probably do it over the phone), then furnish that information with your freeze application. Paying for unfreezes is silly if you don't have to.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 6:23 PM on September 20, 2008

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