In response to many high-profile data heists over the last decade, many people now choose to lock up access to their credit history with a PIN-controlled “credit report freeze.”
Once widely considered the province of the paranoid, personal digital security is now the calling card of the credit savvy.
After a 2017 breach at Equifax exposed the information of 500 million people, the federal government passed legislation requiring all three credit bureaus to allow people to freeze their credit reports quickly. Credit reporting agencies must respond to online or phoned-in freeze requests within one business day (they get three days for snail mail).
A freeze effectively closes access to your credit report, and since new credit can’t be issued without a credit check, hackers theoretically can’t get it for their own nefarious purposes, either.
This is a great new piece in the cyber-security puzzle, but what about when it comes time to apply for a new mortgage? Don’t get caught with a frozen credit report when the home-buying season heats up!
A credit check is an important part of the lending process, determining in large part the interest rate offered, as well as affecting the amount that can be borrowed.
It’s up to you to instigate the thaw. Make sure to unfreeze your credit before seeking mortgage pre-approval.
The credit bureaus have one hour to unlock your credit report or otherwise respond if contacted online or by phone.
In the current real estate climate, time is of the essence. A delay can lead to unfortunate consequences.
Be aware lenders often pull credit twice – once when they initially take your application, and again just before closing. Ask your lender when they’ll be checking, so you can lock and unlock your credit report accordingly.