Which is better? To freeze your credit report or get credit monitoring?
My recommendation is to place a credit freeze, and here’s why…
A credit freeze locks up your credit file so that no one can take any new credit in your name. Even if you apply for a loan, the creditor will not be able to obtain your credit report until after you lift the freeze.
On the other hand, credit monitoring watches your credit report, usually by checking one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) each quarter. A credit monitoring service will alert you to fraudulent activity after it has happened.
Which would you rather do: prevent fraud or have help fixing the fraud after it’s happened?
GOOD TO KNOW
You can still receive your free annual credit report with a credit freeze in place.
In addition, your current creditors (your Visa card, your mortgage lender, et. al.) can view your credit report to check for accounts going late, etc., while your credit freeze is in place. This is in accordance with federal law, and it does not create a hard inquiry that affects your credit score.
Should You Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report?
What about placing a Fraud Alert? I would not do so unless you were truly a victim of fraud, and fraudulent accounts appear on your report. With a fraud alert, a mortgage lender is required to go through additional steps to get your loan approved, which will delay your closing. When you want to remove it later, it is a bit of a hassle. If you were not a victim of fraud in the past, there is no reason to place a fraud alert on your report — especially since a credit freeze is better protection anyway.
While you are repairing your credit, I recommend having a credit freeze in place.