Did my credit freeze really work?

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Q. After you put a credit freeze on, how do you check to see if it really is on? Only one company gave me a PIN.
— Safety-concerned

A. Credit freezes have become very popular in the wake of the Equifax data breach.

This move will lock your credit reports so no one — including you — can open new account in your name. This is free to do in New Jersey, and when you’re ready to “thaw” your report, there’s also no fee.

When you request a freeze, you’ll receive — or see on your monitor’s screen — a PIN, said Beverly Harzog, a consumer credit expert and bestselling author.

The PIN is important to put in a safe place.

“If you aren’t sure if you actually successfully placed a freeze on your credit, then call the two bureaus that didn’t give you a PIN and try to retrieve it or get a replacement PIN,” she said.

This can also be done online.

If a freeze wasn’t successfully placed, then you can take care of it right away, Harzog said.

When you decide it’s time to lift the freeze, you’ll need the PINs.

“Keep in mind that lifting the freeze might take up to three business days,” Harzog said. “So if you have the PIN handy, you’ll be ready to get the process started so the freeze will be lifted within a few days.”

If you want to test the freeze, she recommends you take a look at one of the free credit score websites, such as Credit Karma.

“You’ll have problems getting the free score if you’ve frozen the account on the bureau they use to calculate a score,” she said.

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The post was originally published in November 2017.

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