Dear Liz: Is it possible to put some sort of block on one’s credit reports to prevent current and subsequent unsecured creditors from attaching additional negative marks? I’ve been told by someone I was referred to (I think he’s an ex-mortgage professional) that it’s possible to place blocks on one’s credit to prevent further negative reporting by unsecured credit card issuers as long as they don’t have a copy of your actual Social Security card. It sounds too easy. Everyone would be doing it to minimize credit-rating damage.
Answer: Of course they would. What the former mortgage pro may have been referring to is a credit freeze, which allows you to block potential future lenders from seeing your credit report.
Credit freezes are an important tool for victims of identity theft or those at high risk of having their identities stolen. With the freeze in place, a lender processing the application of the identity thief won’t be able to access your report and will almost certainly refuse to open a new account for the criminal.
If you need credit, you will have to unfreeze your report to allow a lender to see your data. Credit freezes are available at each of the three major credit bureaus that collect your credit information, although there are typically fees involved for freezing and unfreezing your files.
A credit freeze does not prevent your current lenders from reviewing your credit reports or adding new information to them. The best way to prevent negative information is to pay your bills on time, borrow only what you can afford to repay and prevent disputes from going to collections.