Freeze or lock? How you can safeguard your personal information

TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - Freezing your credit or locking your credit?

Two things you may never even have heard of but they're becoming more and more well known, after over 140 million people had their personal information breached through credit reporting bureau Equifax. There are pros and cons of both.

"Unfortunately as a consumer we all have to realize that someone, somewhere at some point will get access to our personal data and we all have to defend ourselves," said Nick Clements with magnifymoney.com.

A sobering fact about your personal credit and financial information from Clements. He and his team deal with personal finance all the time. People are learning more and more about what protections are available.

We start with a credit lock.

"If you buy from one of the bureaus their $20 a month service that gives you free access to your report, it gives you your score, it gives you alerts and it gives you the ability to lock and unlock your credit report," said Clements.

Then you have the credit freeze, typically costing about $5.

"If you want to lock down your credit report, you're going to want to do it on all three bureaus and so the cheapest, most effective way to do it on all three bureaus is to freeze your credit on all three bureaus."

Be careful if you talk with a credit bureau and they push a lock instead of the freeze. Because with a freeze, the credit bureau loses money.

"The credit bureaus make most of their money from banks who are paying to access that information for marketing purposes as well as to access that information for underwriting purposes. So if you freeze your report, you're paying a onetime fee to ensure banks don't have access to that information," said Clements.

So if you pick the freeze, freeze with all three credit bureaus. If you freeze your credit, it will probably take a few weeks to unfreeze it.