(kred'it freez) (n.) Also known as a credit security freeze or security freeze. A credit freeze is a method by which a consumer can limit access to his or her credit report to companies with which he or she has a pre-existing credit relationship, such as mortgage, auto loan and credit card, or a company they wish to enter into a credit relationship with.
By freezing their credit report, consumers can block the opening of a new credit account without their specific permission. When the consumer wants to open a new credit account, they can lift the freeze to allow access to their credit report by the potential creditor.
Depending on state law, potential employers, insurance companies, landlords, collection agencies and other non-creditors can still access a person's credit report. But, it is unlikely that an identity thief would be able to open an account in the name of the consumer.
See "Credit Freeze Can Protect Against Identity Theft" in the Did You Know...? section of Webopedia.
See also "Defend Yourself Against Identity Theft" in the Did You Know...? section of Webopedia.
Also see "The difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert" on CardRatings.com.