Credit Advice

Credit freeze doesn’t affect use of existing accounts

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Credit Advice

Credit freeze doesn’t affect use of existing accounts

Dear Experian,

Does a credit freeze affect the use of a credit card that we already have? Will we have a problem every time we purchase something with our card?

- RIC

Dear RIC,

Freezing your credit file does not affect your ability to use your existing accounts. I think that misunderstanding comes from a relatively common misperception that when you swipe your credit card through the reader at the retail counter that your credit report is accessed. But, that isn’t what happens.

Passing your card through a reader causes the information to be transmitted through a credit card processing system, such as Visa or MasterCard so that the transaction can be applied to your account. There is no connection with credit reporting companies, like Experian, and your credit report is not accessed.

A credit freeze on your credit report only comes into play when you apply for new credit and the lender tries to request your credit report. Before you apply, you must lift the freeze so that the lender can receive your credit report and the application can be processed.

A frozen credit file won’t interfere with making purchases using the credit card or other accounts you already have. And, a file freeze won’t stop an identity thief from stealing your existing account number and using it to make fraudulent purchases, either.

Thanks for asking.

- The "Ask Experian" team

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