What comes to your mind when you hear the word "frozen"? Most people will start thinking about something icy, inactive or fixed, usually imagining vegetables, earth or even human emotions. Very few people, actually, will think of a credit card report frozen, considering that the procedure is rather rare and is used in most urgent cases.
Yes, credit cards, just like fruit, vegetables or the ground, can also be frozen but it does not mean they become covered by ice. It's just that the account is made inactive and credit report inaccessible to anyone who is unauthorized.
When do customers decide to freeze their credit cards?
It does not matter if you have a good credit card or a card for bad credit, there may come time when you urgently will need to freeze them. It shouldn't sound conclusive though, because different people approach the matter in a different way and you may perhaps find an alternative.
So, what is a credit card freeze? A credit card freeze is a lock-down of your report that prohibits anyone, you included, from opening any form of credit in your name. As soon as you put a freeze, your credit file becomes unavailable to credit card issuers, other potential lenders and even employers.
The freeze makes your credit file inaccessible even for you, the legal cardholder, unless you use a special PIN to lift the freeze from your credit report.
How do you freeze your credit report and what circumstances force you to do that? So, the lock-down of your credit card is the disabling of your account which you will need in two cases mostly.
First, you are addicted to shopping and credit card spending and will inevitably max out your plastic if you don't collect yourself. But you can't, and that's when you need to freeze your credit card account. And even if you still venture on a new and expensive purchase, you will have time to reconsider your decision before the account thaws out.
The second case that may induce you to freeze your credit card account is the suspected or actual identity theft. At present, there are a number of states that provide their residents with the right to freeze their accounts. Washington, Vermont, Texas, Louisiana, California, Nevada, Colorado and some others offer their residents the option to lock down their credit cards if they provide the necessary evidence of falling victim to identity theft.
Why is the credit card freeze more effective than the more usual fraud alert on one's credit card report? The thing is that fraud alert leaves your account active and in fact allows a credit issuer approve anyone applying in your name, if they verify it with you. So, a creditor contacts you for permission to issue a credit card.
The bad thing is that creditors are not legally required to check the alert and any potential criminal may open credit in your name. You do not want to run such a great risk, so you opt for a credit card freeze which is much more efficient.
If someone applies for a credit card in your name, the credit company will address one of the three credit bureaus to see if that one qualifies and to grant him or her approval. If your account is frozen, however, the creditor won't be able even to have a look at it until you yourself lift the freeze with a special PIN.
So, the credit card freeze protects you not only from your uncontrollable spending but also from credit card fraud which is important both for your personal security and credit card rating.