Note that the situation for many types of debt has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government and others. This includes AnnualCreditReport.com offering free credit reports on a weekly basis, rather than one per year, through April 2022. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
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If you suspect you’ve been the victim of identity theft or fraud, act fast to freeze your credit report. Placing a credit freeze can prevent theft from proceeding any further and protect your credit score.
Here’s what you need to know about freezing credit reports, as well as some downsides to consider before doing so:
- What placing a credit freeze does
- 4 reasons you should freeze your credit report
- How to freeze your credit report
- 3 downsides to consider before you freeze your credit report
- Other options to consider before freezing credit reports
A credit freeze gives you control over who sees and uses your credit report.
When you freeze your credit report, lenders and others aren’t allowed to access it for any reason. However, when you apply for credit, you’ll need to take steps to lift the freeze.
Requesting a credit report freeze can help protect you from identity theft, especially in the following situations:
In the digital age, it’s almost impossible to avoid having your sensitive information stored on a web server. And as hackers become more sophisticated, data breaches become more common.
In some cases, you might not find out immediately that your information has been compromised. So, freezing credit reports can prevent anything from happening in the meantime.
Unless you’ve opted out, you likely receive prescreened or preapproved offers from lenders. Many of these offers include a promotion for a credit card or the promise of a low interest rate on a personal loan.
In any case, the financial institution checked your credit with a soft inquiry before sending that offer. Although the inquiry itself doesn’t hurt your credit score, you might feel like your privacy has been violated.
If you do a credit report freeze, lenders won’t have access to your report.
If you’re planning to take a long trip abroad, the last thing you want to do is deal with fraud back home. And since you’re not going to be in the U.S. for a while, you likely won’t be applying for credit while you’re away.
Placing a credit freeze over the phone or online is usually instantaneous, so you can make the request anytime.
With data breaches and other types of fraud, it can be hard to say what the thieves have access to. But if you know for sure what a fraudster has stolen, freezing your credit reports can give you peace of mind.
For example, if your mail was stolen, it’s possible your Social Security number was listed on a document that had been mailed to you.
There are four ways to request a credit report freeze from a credit bureau:
Whichever method you choose, note that to complete the request, you’ll need to provide the following information:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Other personal information
After the freeze has been placed, you’ll receive a letter in the mail with a PIN or password you can use later to lift the freeze.
This is the most convenient option. You can make online requests through the three national credit bureaus’ websites:
You can call the bureaus and make requests through their customer service teams:
- TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872
- Equifax: 888-298-0045
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
Although it’s a significantly slower option, two of the three credit bureaus allow you to make requests via snail mail:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
In June 2017, TransUnion and Equifax launched a tool that allows you to freeze and unfreeze your credit reports with a click of your mouse.
“Multi-Bureau Lock allows customers to lock both their TransUnion and Equifax credit reports simultaneously,” said Heather Battison, former vice president of consumer communications at TransUnion.
The caveat is that you need to be a paying customer for TransUnion’s Credit Lock, which costs $24.95 per month. This service also offers up to $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance.
Equifax also offers a free service called Lock & Alert™, which allows you to lock your Equifax reports.
Freezing credit reports sounds like a great way to avoid identity theft altogether, but there are a few things you should note before doing it:
“Freezing your credit prevents fraudsters from opening unauthorized lines of credit under your name, protecting your overall credit health,” said Battison.
But it doesn’t prevent identity theft on your active accounts. If you choose to freeze your credit report, make sure you still keep an eye on your current accounts.
Most credit monitoring services provide you with a credit report and score by making a soft inquiry on your credit report.
If your report is frozen, though, they might not be able to access it. That will make it hard to know if there’s any fraud happening on accounts you already have open.
Every time you apply for credit, an apartment lease or a utility contract, the other party typically runs a credit check. If you freeze your credit report, though, the other party can’t do that. So, you’ll need to request temporary lifts.
Credit bureaus have up to three days to lift the freeze, so make sure to do it well in advance.
If you’re concerned about identity theft, freezing credit reports isn’t the only precaution you can take. You also can add an initial fraud alert to your credit reports.
“In the event of a suspected breach, place a fraud alert on your credit report to alert potential creditors or lenders you may have been a victim of fraud,” said Battison.
That way, if someone applies for credit in your name, the creditor must reach out to the phone number you listed in the alert to verify your identity.
What’s more, you have to create a fraud alert with only one of the three credit bureaus. It will then contact the others on your behalf.
If a fraud alert sounds more appropriate for your situation, choose it over a credit freeze. If, however, you feel like things are bad enough, freezing your credit reports might give you more peace of mind.
According to Battison, other ways to prevent fraud include monitoring your credit report regularly, using secure websites and using mobile payments instead of plastic at cash registers.
Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.74% – 8.70%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.05% – 5.25%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.86% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|N/A7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 8.38%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 4, 2022.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for Navient.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
8 Important Disclosures for CitizensBank.
Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.99%-8.38% (1.99%-8.38% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.99%-8.63% (2.99%-8.63% APR).
IS Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates advertised are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Your final variable rate may be based upon the 30-day average SOFR index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.