How Do I Freeze My Credit Report
To freeze your credit report, you need to contact the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and Transunion online or by phone to make your request.
You will receive a verification PIN, which will be needed in the future for temporarily or permanently removing the freeze. The selected agency will complete the process within one business day. If the freeze is being removed, then they must comply within one hour of the request.
Keep track of your freeze start and end dates. You can request a free copy of your Annual Credit Report each year from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Compare the three reports to verify that there are no unfamiliar charges.
How To Freeze Credit For A Parent Or Other Adult
If youâre in charge of caring for a loved one, you may be able to place a security freeze on their behalf if you have power of attorney or a court order.
In some cases, the process is similar to placing a freeze for a child:
- Equifax has an adult freeze request form with full directions. It includes a list of documents you must provide to verify your identity and a mailing address where you can send your request.
- Experian directs people to use the same request form for adults and minors.
- TransUnion says you can call 888-909-8872 to start the process.
How To Freeze Your Transunion Credit Report
TransUnion offers a three-step process on its website to freeze your credit.
The website includes information about freezing the credit of a loved one, including a minor or dependent, spouse, deceased relative, or parent. TransUnion has a mobile app to freeze or lift your credit on the go.
Be sure to opt out, if you dont want to receive unsolicited offers of credit or insurance.
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How To Unfreeze Your Credit Report
The quickest and easiest way to unfreeze your credit report is to contact the credit bureau you used to freeze your credit either online or by phone. But you also have the option to contact them by mail.
If you froze your credit report with each of the major credit bureaus Experian®, Equifax® and TransUnion® you’ll need to contact all three individually. You may also need the PIN or password you received when you initially froze your credit.
Keep in mind, a credit freeze and credit lock are different. Make sure you know the differences between freezing credit and locking credit.
Freeze Your Equifax Credit Report By Mail
If youd rather set up a security freeze via postal mail, the address is: Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348. Your PIN will be mailed to you.
Youll need to include your full name, including any suffixes, your address, Social Security number and date of birth.
Equifax also asks that you include copies of documents that verify your name and address. Acceptable ones include a passport, drivers license, military ID, tax documents, bank statements, utility bills, etc.
If you are requesting a freeze on behalf of a minor or other protected consumer, youll need to provide information for the person whose credit you want to freeze as well as documentation that shows you have the authority to make the request.
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How To Freeze Your Childs Credit
Parents and guardians can freeze the credit of a child under 16.
If you request a freeze for your child, the credit bureau must create a credit file for the child, then freeze it. In addition to supplying the information required for an adult credit freeze, youll also need the childs birth certificate and proof that you have standing to freeze the childs credit.
Yes. Placing a freeze on your credit reports can protect you from fraudulent credit applications. Unfreezing your credit is typically quick when you need to apply for credit.
There are some downsides to freezing your credit. You may be susceptible to scams involving your Social Security number and your insurance rate could increase if your state allows insurers to use credit information to set rates.
Credit freeze services are mandated by federal law and are free. A credit lock is an optional service a credit bureau may offer you for a fee, but it offers fewer legal protections than a freeze.
When Should I Consider A Credit Freeze
You might consider a credit freeze if you know your information has been exposed in a data breach. Why? Cybercriminals may have accessed your personal information, which could be used to commit financial fraud.
Often, the exposed information which might include personally identifiable information like your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number is sold on the dark web. If you think youve been a victim of identity theft, a credit freeze might be a smart move.
Other examples? You might also consider freezing your credit if you start to receive bills for credit accounts you didnt open. For instance, it could be a medical bill you dont recognize. Or you might receive calls from a collection agency seeking payment on a credit line you never opened. These are signs that youre a victim of identity theft.
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How Does A Credit Freeze Work
While your security freeze in place, new creditors and lenders can’t request your credit report. Instead, when you’re ready to apply for credit, you’ll need to temporarily lift the security freeze to allow a credit pull. You may not know ahead of time which credit report the company will check, so unfreezing all three credit reports is best.
If you’re requesting to lift the freeze online or over the phone, it will become effective within an hour. If you submit your request via mail, the freeze will be lifted within three business days of the bureau receiving your request. Credit bureaus are required to send you confirmation of the freeze within five business days of placing the freeze.
Freezing your credit report doesn’t hurt your credit score or prevent you from accessing your free annual credit report. Your existing creditors will continue to be able to update your credit report with your latest account information.
The security freeze doesnt keep everyone out of your credit file, though. Creditors and lenders that already have access to your accounts can access your credit report and score. Employers, insurance companies, and prospective landlords can still check your credit. Law enforcement agencies can access your credit report and score despite a credit freeze, too.
What Is A Credit Freeze And How Does It Work
A credit freeze is a free service that restricts access to your credit file. When you freeze your credit, you prevent anyone who might have access to your Social Security number or personal information from accessing your credit report. The purpose of a credit freeze is to prevent new accounts from being opened using your information.
When you freeze your credit, you’ll need to complete the process with all three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
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Difference Between A Credit Freeze And A Credit Lock
A credit freeze is different from a credit lock or fraud alert. A credit lock is a paid service provided by the credit bureaus that enables you to lock your own credit. A fraud alert warns lenders that they should verify your identity before extending credit since you suspect that your identity has been compromised. They will be able to access your credit report after confirming your identity with you. While this will prevent someone from opening a new account in your name, you will still have to monitor your existing accounts to make sure there are no spurious charges.
Freezing Your Experian Credit Report Via Postal Mail
If you prefer to use the mail, you can send your request to Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013.
Experian has information on its website that should help you figure out what information and documents you may need.
In general, youll need to include your full name , Social Security number, birthdate, two years worth of addresses, a government-issued ID card, such as a drivers license, and a utility bill or other acceptable proof of address.
Youll receive your PIN via postal mail.
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You Might Experience Credit Delays
Companies typically won’t extend credit if one or more of your credit reports are frozen. If you request a credit thaw online or by phone, the credit bureaus are required by law to complete the request within an hour. Requests via snail mail can take a few days, however.
Even with a fast turnaround time, it can cause delays if you forget to thaw your credit before you apply for something that requires a credit check. Delays can also result if you forget or lose your required PIN or password and need to work with a bureau to recover it. You can avoid these delays by thinking ahead and lifting your credit freeze before you submit an application for a credit card, loan, lease or insurance policy.
Know What A Credit Freeze Is
A is a tool consumers can use to help protect themselves against credit fraud. When you freeze your credit reports, most companies are blocked from viewing them until you “thaw” the freeze.
When lenders can’t view your credit report, they can’t extend credit. This means that if someone has managed to steal your Social Security number and other personal information, they won’t be able to open fraudulent credit accounts in your name.
That said, a credit freeze will also make it impossible for you to get approved for credit unless you lift it temporarily or permanently.
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Once You Request Your Experian Credit Freeze
Because credit reporting agencies dont share data, except in the case of placing a fraud alert, youll need to place a freeze at all three credit bureaus. NerdWallet has step-by-step guides for freezing Equifax and TransUnion credit as well.
And keep up with your PIN. Though its possible to retrieve a lost PIN, its less hassle and faster if you know where to find it when you need it.
About the author:Bev O’Shea writes about credit for NerdWallet. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, MarketWatch and elsewhere.Read more
How A Security Freeze Works
- Once youve placed a security freeze on your credit, a creditor who asks to see your file will see a message that your file is frozen. The creditor will not see your credit score, and may treat your application as incomplete but not rejected.
- Government agencies collecting child support payments or taxes and your existing creditors or collection agencies acting on their behalf can continue to access your credit despite the freeze.
- Other creditors may also use your information to offer you pre-approved credit. You can stop most credit offers by calling 5-OPT-OUT or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.
- You will still be able to get a free copy of your credit report annually from each credit bureau.
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Freezing Your Experian Credit Report Online
You can access a short form online, and you will be asked for some identifying information name, Social Security number and birthdate. Youll also get an opportunity to select your own PIN, if you prefer that to being assigned one.
Here’s a screenshot of Experian’s freeze site:
Youll then be asked identity verification questions, typically involving past addresses or credit accounts.
Once you correctly answer those, youll see a screen that says Security freeze successfully added in a green bar at the top.
The body of the message includes your PIN.
At the bottom of the page are two buttons, Print or Email my PIN. Choose the one you want and take care of that number, because you will need it to lift the credit freeze.
What Is Credit Monitoring
Its essential to track whether and why your credit grade changes. Unauthorized hard checks signal that someone was trying to get a loan using your identity. Its smart to perform a credit check at least once a year. As of 2020, everyone in the US can get 6 free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website, in addition to the one free Equifax report you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
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How To Freeze Credit Reports Of A Spouse Or A Child
Each credit bureau provides information on the process of freezing credit of a spouse, child, parent, or deceased relative. The process is similar to that of freezing your own credit. You must pass the verification procedure by providing yours and the persons details.
The necessary documents usually include your data such as government-issued ID, birth certificate, social security card, and proof of address. Also, you must provide proof of your relationship with the person such as a marriage or birth certificate. Finally, you should be able to give the other persons social security card and personal details as well.
Please note that putting a freeze on your credit wont result in an automatic freeze of your spouses credit report. Both must be done separately and with all three credit bureaus.
What To Do If Your Childs Identity Is Stolen
If you do happen to uncover a fraudulent account in your childâs name, you may want to consider filing a police report.
âYou have rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act that if you file some sort of report with an enforcement agency, you can take that to the credit bureaus to have that stuff purged and permanently removed,â Ulzheimer says. âYou can also get out from any liability issues with respect to the debt.â
Youâll also want to visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the fraud, unlock resources from the Federal Trade Commission and create a recovery plan.
No matter how you choose to move forward, freezing your kidsâ credit is one of the best tools for securing their identities and preventing future abuse. The process shouldnât take more than an hour or so of your time, which is a small price to pay to safeguard their financial future.
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How Long Does It Take To Unlock Your Credit
Consumers should unfreeze their credit for only as long as they need to. This can range from a day or two to a couple weeks. The length of time to unfreeze your credit primarily depends on the type of credit youre seeking. A credit card might take less than a day to open, after which you can freeze your credit again.
Identity Theft Protections Services
In general, an identity theft protection service provides its customers with more than credit monitoring services.
For instance, a free credit monitoring service may point out that there is activity on your credit report. In contrast, an identity theft protection service may do more by monitoring for suspicious or fraudulent activity involving your identity via bank accounts, criminal databases, and other places your Social Security number is used.
If your identity is stolen, an identity theft protection service sometimes helps fix the problem. Whats more, an identity theft protection service may alert you if your personal information is spotted on the dark web because an identity thief is selling it.
Bottom line? While nothing can protect you against all forms of identity theft, credit freezes can help. And since theyre free, they wont hurt your wallet.
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Understand The Credit Freeze Process
You’ll need to file a credit freeze request with all three major credit bureaus for it to be effective. During the process, you’ll need to answer a handful of questions to verify your identity.
You’ll also need to provide your Social Security number, a copy of a photo ID and proof of residence, such as a recent utility bill. Depending on the bureau, you may get a PIN you can use to freeze and unfreeze your report in the future.
If you plan to apply for credit with a security freeze on your credit reports, you’ll need to lift the freezes, either temporarily or permanently, before you apply to ensure the lender can view your reports during its credit check.
Is Freezing My Credit A Good Idea
Freezing your credit is a financially responsible decision to make. Experian confirmed in its 2017 Data Breach Report report that an estimated 179 million records were exposed, resulting in the viewing of 14.2 million credit card numbers. And in 2018, identity theft cases involved 130,982 fraudulent credit card accounts. These statistics arent meant to alarm you, but rather remind you of the importance of protecting your economic prosperity. Freezing your credit can help prevent identity theft by limiting report access, and stopping before it starts.
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What About A Fraud Alert
A fraud alert doesnt lock your credit report the way a credit freeze does. Instead, it requires a lender or creditor to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. Fraud alerts also expire after a year, unless you have been the victim of identity theft, in which case they last for seven years.