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Topics addressed on May 27, 2009:
Credit freeze could slow job search success
Since October 2008 I have been unemployed and would like to know how applying a credit freeze on my reports affects my search for employment.
When you freeze your credit report, you prevent access to it by potential employers until you lift the freeze. As a result, a frozen credit report could interfere with your ability to get a new job unless you manage the freeze carefully.
You will need to have the freeze lifted each time a prospective employer wants to check your credit report. The need to thaw or not should be clear because potential employers are required to have you sign a release prior to accessing your credit report for employment purposes.
However, they may want to check reports from each of the national credit reporting agencies, so you would actually need to thaw three reports each time or see if they can tell you which company they use for their employment services.
There is no fee for victims of fraud who have provided a police report to freeze or thaw their credit reports. Thawing a report that is frozen when you are not a victim of identity theft can cost up to $10 for each report. So, you could spend $30 each time an employer wants to check your report.
Finally, if the credit review occurs at the time of application, it could delay processing while you request thaws. Managing the thaws includes deciding the length of time you want them to be in effect before they are automatically frozen again.
So, unless you have been a victim of identity theft, it probably would be better to leave your credit reports unfrozen until you have found a new job.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team