Q: What exactly is a credit freeze? A:
Also known as a security freeze, a credit freeze restricts access to your credit report so no one can open a new credit account in your name.
A credit freeze prevents criminals from using your personal information to open new accounts or get loans in your name, since most creditors/lenders need to see your credit report before approving a new account. And in order to authorize the new account, they need to verify that it’s actually you — and when your credit is frozen, criminals can’t pretend to be you.
Once you freeze your credit with all three main credit agencies, you then receive a unique PIN from each that only you know and have access to. If the agency offers the option of email you your PIN, that’s a bad idea, in case your email were to get hacked at some point.
Important note: Do not lose that PIN — make sure to keep each unique PIN in a safe place where only you (or your spouse/family member) can access it.