Simone's Blog: Money Magnet

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

To freeze or not to freeze

Freezing Your Credit May Be The Best Financial Move of 2016

Planning to buy a house, finance a car, open a credit card, or take any other action that requires your credit be pulled in the immediate future? If not, freezing your credit may be a great way to avoid identity theft and the risk of opening a credit card simply because the store you're in is offering 10% off that day only. Here are a few things you need to know:

What it is: A credit (or security) freeze allows you to restrict access to your credit report. This means that anyone trying to pull your credit will be denied, thus locking you out of the loan. This does not impact your score when it's time to unfreeze your report.

How it's done: You can freeze your credit by going to the website of each creditor, equifax.com, experian.com and transunion.com , and requesting the freeze. The cost is typically $10 per bureau, however this varies based on your state of residence. It typically takes 3 business days to place the freeze. You can unfreeze your credit at any time. The cost, if any, also varies by state.

Impact to current loans: There is none. Your current lenders still have the ability to review your credit report and make updates based on your payment history. Again, your score is not hurt by a freeze; in fact, it could be helped if you often apply for new credit. You're also still able to pull your own credit report to be sure that your current creditors are accurately reporting timely payments.

Is this a cure-all for identity theft?
If a thief already has access to your personal information credit freeze will not stop them from taking advantage. Further, some companies do not require a credit report to provide a loan. The best thing to do to further protect yourself is check your bank accounts, credit cards and insurance statements regularly for inaccurate charges.

Difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze: Fraud alerts are a great way to monitor your credit when you can't freeze it. This is a free service that requires all new lenders to get approval from you before pulling your credit. I still recommend a credit freeze as a catch-all approach, however fraud alerts are a solid option while you're searching for a new loan.

And so it is.