Updated: Aug 17
Let's start with the why: Why freeze your credit?
Freezing your credit can be a crucial step to take if you think your identity might have been stolen from a financial institution hack, or if you have reason to believe someone might impersonate you to open accounts or credit cards in your name without permission. A credit freeze will prevent possible creditors from looking at your credit report, which is a part of most loan and credit card application processes. This means that if your credit is frozen, identity thieves and impersonators won't be able to open fraudulent accounts in your name.
To freeze your credit you must contact each of the major credit bureaus individually and request a freeze. This is typically free to do, and should only take a few minutes. The three main bureaus have online instructions and resources to help you:
Unfreezing credit can be done through the links above, as well.
When should you unfreeze your credit? Any time you want to apply for a loan or a credit card, or any other time you would need to allow access to your credit report. Unfreezing can be temporary or permanent, if you have reason to believe that the risk of identify fraud is over.