Top 3 reasons you NEED to freeze your credit right NOW!

Real Estate Agent with Joie Ashworth REALTOR Licensed in MD & DC

UPDATE: Now that the #EquifaxBreach has occured, this is the best way to get some peace of mind and protect yourself against would-be identity thieves... It's not a matter of IF it will happen, it's now a question of WHEN the fraudsters will decide to use your information. Read on! - 10Sept2017


When you head off to work each morning, do you shut the front door? Do you lock it? You're probably saying "Duh! Of course I do!" Right? Most Americans are walking around with their "credit identity doors" wide open. In fact, they usually don't even know they have the ability to close AND lock that door.

Years ago, when I first left my mom and dad's house for college, I began to receive credit card solicitations in the mail. My mom told me it was a good idea to go ahead and open a major credit card and establish some credit. However, she taught me to use my credit very responsibly. That turned out to be great advice and I was proud to watch my credit score tick higher and higher over the years. I bought my first house when I was only 24! However, when my home was burglarized and laptop stolen while I was at work, I wondered how I could prevent the thieves from opening credit in my name. That's when I discovered I could lock my credit file down and hide the key!

Credit Freeze FAQs

YES! Freezing your credit might make applying for new credit lines and loans a real PAIN in the future, but here are my top 3 reasons why I think it's worth the trouble:

  1. A Little Peace of Mind: My mom called me and told me she found a box of my old college papers. I initially told her to just throw it out. Then I realized WAIT! Our student IDs on all of our grade reports, registration forms and transcripts was our social security number! I know, I'm dating myself... no longer the case in most educational institutions, but if those documents did fall into the wrong hands, I would feel confident that the would-be identity thieves wouldn't get very far with my sensitive information.
  2. Impulse Spending Control: I once received some financial advice from one of my wealthier clients. He said, the best way to control your credit spending is to take all of your credit cards and put them in a mason jar, fill it with water and freeze it. He said when you're shopping at the mall and you want to buy something you hadn't planned to buy, you'll have to go all the way home, wait for the jar to thaw and then go all the way back to the store. By that time, most likely, the impulse to buy will have passed. Sounds pretty extreme, and no, I never did that, but I held onto that basic philosophy by freezing my credit files. By the time I find my PIN numbers and thaw my credit, I will have given this major purchase plenty of thought.
  3. Better Than Most Credit Monitoring Services: When my home was burglarized, I was glad I had a security alarm because it alerted me and deterred the burglars from spending much more time inside my home, but it didn't actually prevent the burglary. I'd really like to keep the burglars out in the first place. Most credit monitoring services (paid or free) will only alert you to the activity. Some will even help you clean up the mess. Wouldn't it be great to prevent the credit identity theft from happening in the first place?

Why credit freezing can be a pain:

  • You'll need to freeze all 3 credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion & Experian) in order to be properly protected. There is a small fee to freeze it which varies by state
  • You'll need to keep up with a PIN for future credit "thawing" (lifting the freeze)
  • Thawing your credit for a new credit application will usually cost a small amount, which varies by state

Why credit freezing isn't for everyone:

A credit freeze is a good idea for people who are fairly stable, do not intend to move frequently, do not intend to apply for a new credit card or finance a new car, boat, home etc in the next year or so.

A credit freeze is a bad idea for people who move around a lot and tend to lose their PINs.

Why would a 5-Star REALTOR® want people to lock down their credit? When I take on a new buyer, we quickly get into a conversation about credit. I'm always surprised how many people tell me they don't have any idea what's on their credit. I'm doubly surprised when it's mortgage loan application time and they find out they've been the victim of credit identity theft. The process of disputing fraudulent credit items can be lengthy and can severely delay the homebuying process.

Now GO! Freeze your credit! Or don't... but at least now you know you can! And stop those annoying prescreened credit offers and cut down on all those junk mail credit card solicitations while you're at it. 

Photo credit: Paul Stocker

Posted by
Joie Ashworth, REALTOR®
Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR)®, 
Seller Representative Specialist (SRS), 
Pricing Strategies Advisor (PSA)
Top 100 Agent, Licensed in MD and DC
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Cell phone: (240) 428-0411
Office phone: (301) 983-0200
10220 River Rd, Potomac MD 20854

Comments (38)

Steven Nickens
Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers - Wailea, HI
R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii

Josie, I never thought about freezing your credit, thanks for the info.

Jul 08, 2017 10:39 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Steven Nickens I'm glad I could show you something new! 😀

Jul 10, 2017 09:01 AM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Great post Joie Ashworth and a well deserved feature. Way to go! I did a post a year or two back about putting your credit cards in a jar and freezing them... there are times I wish I'd follow my own advice. 

Jul 08, 2017 02:47 PM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thanks Bob "RealMan" Timm! Financial self control is a true challenge for most people to some extent. You won't find my credit cards in a jar in the freezer, but I do put a "deep freeze" on mall shopping, hungry shopping, boredom shopping and shopping without a grocery list.

Jul 10, 2017 09:26 AM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Joie Ashworth Those are very good reasons to freeze credit.

Jul 08, 2017 04:30 PM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thank you John Pusa!

Jul 10, 2017 09:13 AM
Sham Reddy CRS
Howard Hanna RE Services, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Great ideas!!!

A credit freeze is a good idea for people who are fairly stable, do not intend to move frequently, do not intend to apply for a new credit card or finance a new car, boat, home etc in the next year or so.

Jul 08, 2017 06:20 PM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thank you Sham Reddy!

Jul 10, 2017 09:12 AM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Welcome to the Rain! very well written post You did great!  I opted for the life lock instead of freezing but it is good to plan and be cautious!!! Looking forward to more posts!

Jul 09, 2017 12:28 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thank you Debra Leisek! A little caution and planning can go a long way!

Jul 10, 2017 09:11 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Joie Ashworth ,

Welcome to Active Rain and loved your first post..very informative and insightful. Looking forward to reading more of your posts..good stuff!!

Jul 09, 2017 04:36 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thanks for the welcome and the encouragement Dorie Dillard!

Jul 10, 2017 08:56 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Welcome to ActiveRain! This is very interesting information; Most people probably move around too much for this to be useful, but I know some people who might love this option.

Jul 09, 2017 05:58 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Kat Palmiotti thank you! It's a great option for my fellow paranoid consumers 😅

Jul 10, 2017 08:55 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Joie, 

Welcome to ActiveRain!  What a great way to start out blogging...with a feature!  Well written and some fabulous advice for others to ponder. I am looking forward to your next article.

Jul 09, 2017 06:26 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thank you Sheri Sperry - MCNE®! I appreciate the support!

Jul 10, 2017 08:54 AM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Joie, thanks for the sage advice. I have mine locked right now, and it gives me restful sleep. 

Jul 09, 2017 08:22 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Mike Cooper it's nice to NOT lose any sleep over your identity isn't it? 👍

Jul 10, 2017 08:53 AM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Welcome to ActiveRain, Joie Ashworth.

This is The Best place to learn, share and build relationships with like-minded professionals.

Jul 09, 2017 10:31 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

This is something I really was not aware of - a good topic to discuss at the buyer's consultation for sure, Joie Ashworth.

Jul 09, 2017 10:32 PM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Praful Thakkar thank you, and yes, definitely adds value to the buyer relationship.

Jul 10, 2017 08:51 AM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Joie  Great info here  Thank you for sharing this information

Jul 10, 2017 06:34 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thank you Hannah Williams!

Jul 10, 2017 08:50 AM
Luke Acree
ReminderMedia - King of Prussia, PA
Making Agents Memorable

A credit freeze sounds like a minor inconvenience to save a person from a future crisis. That said, these days people are willing to sacrifice a lot in exchange for convenience.

Jul 10, 2017 07:10 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Amen Luke Acree! I prefer to avoid crisis situations if at all possible 😀

Jul 10, 2017 08:50 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Joie - this is really great information and you have explain the pros and cons to it

Jul 10, 2017 08:19 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thank you Grant Schneider

Jul 10, 2017 08:47 AM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good afternoon Joie and welcome to the Rain. I likre your creativity and processs. I'm careful so no freezing for me. TY

Jul 10, 2017 11:00 AM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thanks Sheila Anderson! I'm careful and paranoid 😂 All of these data breaches have me worried, so I froze. Thanks for your support!

Jul 10, 2017 02:21 PM
Vickie Teel
RE/MAX PALM REALTY - Port Charlotte, FL
Sharing Florida sunshine one homeowner at a time!

Welcome to Activerain Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA and congrats on this well written feature.  It's a great reminder.

Jul 12, 2017 07:08 PM
Joie Ashworth, SRS, ABR, PSA

Thank you for the great compliment Vickie Teel!!!

Jul 13, 2017 07:03 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Welcome to the Rain blog! 

Congratulations on your first post!

Keep them coming. 

Jul 14, 2017 12:12 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Joie welcome to ActiveRain and congratulations on posting your first blog on this site.

Jul 16, 2017 06:55 PM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

This would be a great solution for those without any impulse control, or spending problems.  How do you spell "E-x  w-i-f-e"?

Aug 09, 2017 05:54 AM
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

Joie I am trying to educate myself on the topic myself. Never thought of credit freezing. Found this blog very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

Jun 01, 2018 12:18 PM