What is the Difference Between a Credit Lock and a Credit Freeze?

Written By Guest Post
Last updated August 11, 2020

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padlock over credit card and laptop keyboard representing identify theft protection
August 11, 2020

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

With the high amount of data breaches and talk of identity theft. Many end up using a credit freeze or a credit lock. Both are used as a preventive measure, both prohibit anyone from accessing your credit report or opening an account in your name. So what is the difference between a credit lock and a credit freeze? In short, it has to do with your preference. We highlight a credit freeze vs lock below. 

Freezing your credit means all three credit reporting bureaus will restrict anyone from accessing your credit report. The bureaus include Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. This means most lenders will be unable to see your credit report. In turn creditors will not open a new account when they can’t check your credit. This protects you from someone opening an account in your name. However you must unfreeze your credit prior to applying for anything that would require a credit check. When you unfreeze your account you must provide a password or pin.

Like a credit freeze you can “lock” your credit. Preventing any fraudulent action. The biggest difference is how you go about unlocking your credit. It is significantly easier than an unfreeze. You can unlock your credit instantly.

So which one is the best option? It really boils down to the level of protection desired. A credit freeze provides the highest level. A credit freeze helps protect your credit report. This option is best if you have been a victim of identity theft. Or if your information has been compromised, like it was for millions in the Equifax breach. You can still access your credit information under a freeze.

The plus side of a credit lock is the convenience. You can quickly lock your credit in the event your information has been compromised. You can as easily unlock your credit, in the event you need to have a lender access your information. 

The downside is the level of protection. This is due to the fact that locks, unlike freezes are not overseen by federal law. In addition, companies that provide credit locks are unable to promise error free or uninterrupted service. If  convenience is  paramount, make sure you sign up at all three credit bureaus. Additionally, each one offers a different type of lock. When signing up make sure you read the coverage carefully.

One of the ways to monitor your credit profile is to sign up for an identity theft protection service. This is a great way to keep credit information safe without having to freeze or lock your credit. Read our identity theft protection reviews here so you can make the best decision about how to protect yourself and what matters the most. 

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