I am guessing you have either lost your credit card or someone tried to make an unauthorized purchase using your credit card credentials. An increasing number of people are becoming victims to credit card forgery as things are getting more digitized now. Every website has its own online store and it has become very difficult to trust them with your credit card information.
What is a Credit Freeze?
Credit Freeze is a unique security feature provided by the credit reporting bureaus like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These bureaus forbid credit card thieves from getting access to your credit reports. Even third party websites like CreditKarma cannot access your credit reports during a Credit Freeze.
But keep in mind that you are not freezing your credit score(only access to the reports). Transactions done by your other credit cards will still affect your credit score. Your score will get updated as usual but can only be obtained once you disable Credit Freeze.
How to activate a Credit Freeze?
Before you contact the credit reporting bureaus, you need to credit a free account for a Credit Monitoring Service(if not already done). Websites like CreditKarma provide this service without asking you for a penny. Once your account is up and running, you will need to keep in eye on your credit reports and look for any malicious activity in it.
Whether you see any inconsistency or not, the next step is to contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion one by one and tell them about your situation. Most likely the will comply with your request and freeze your credit information within a few seconds. To contact them, you just have to fill a form on each of their websites and wait for confirmation.
When is the right time to lift the Credit Freeze?
The right time to permanently lift the Credit Freeze is when you get confirmation from your credit card company that your stolen credit card information is no longer valid. If you are still in doubt, let the Credit Freeze continue and only lift it temporarily.
You will have to temporarily lift it in case of a new job or before applying for a loan. Ask your new employer/bank which credit reporting bureau they plan to pull your credit reports from? Only unfreeze your credit with that particular bureau. No need to contact all three.
A Credit Freeze will not affect your credit score
Even during a Credit Freeze, you are permitted to apply for loans, purchase items you want and use your credit card as usual. There is no restriction at all. The only hassle is you cannot monitor your credit card activity without calling one of the above-mentioned bureaus to temporarily lift the freeze.
Freezing your credit information is quite simple. Just follow the steps provided in this post and your money will be safe. You should also consider activating various fraud alerts that will notify you in case someone uses your credit card number or social security number to do unethical things. To activate fraud alerts, you just have to contact any of the three credit bureaus and take advantage of this free service.