A credit freeze can help prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name, but it does nothing to keep them from committing fraud with your existing accounts. That means fraudsters might make charges on a payment card in your wallet.
Perhaps the biggest downside to credit freezes is that all of the hassle might not stop identity thieves. While a freeze will most likely prevent them from opening new accounts in your name, it cannot prevent fraud on your existing accounts.
A security freeze prevents prospective creditors from accessing your credit file. Creditors typically won't offer you credit if they can't access your credit reporting file, so a security freeze, also called a credit freeze, prevents you or others from opening accounts in your name.
If you are a particularly high risk, you should always keep your credit locked if you don't plan on any new credit applications in the near future. High-risk individuals include people with recent identity theft or specific knowledge that your information has leaked and is likely to be used in the very near future.
If you want to freeze your credit, you need to do it at each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax (1-800-349-9960), TransUnion (1-888-909-8872) and Experian (1-888-397-3742). If you request a freeze, be sure to store the passwords you'll need to thaw your credit in a safe place.
Lenders who look at your file while it has a fraud alert are required to confirm your identity before granting credit. Placing a credit freeze on your file. During a freeze, lenders may not pull reports or grant credit at all.
If you send your request to thaw your report by mail, we recommend you allow up to three days for it to be thawed once Experian receives your request. Equifax and TransUnion, the two other national credit reporting companies, may have different processes and policies for requesting a credit file thaw.
Equifax allows you to unfreeze your credit temporarily for a specific creditor or for a specified period, from one day to one year. You can also permanently unfreeze your credit, which NerdWallet does not recommend. If you choose to unfreeze or reinstate a freeze by phone or mail at Equifax, you will need a PIN.
When you enter the PIN at Experian's Security Freeze Center, you can lift a credit freeze online immediately. You also can call 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) and provide the PIN to lift the freeze from your credit report. If you lost your PIN, Experian will need to reissue one.
Freezing your credit is free, and you'll need to do it with all three credit bureaus to lock down each of your credit reports.
If you believe someone is using your Social Security number to work, get your tax refund, or other abuses involving taxes, contact the IRS online or call 1-800-908-4490. You can order free credit reports annually from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
Locking your credit costs nothing at Equifax and TransUnion if you enroll in their separate locking programs, but if you choose to use their joint program that locks both at once — and also includes credit monitoring — there's a fee.
Freezing Your Social Security Number
First, you'll need to create an account on E-Verify, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Once you do, follow the prompts to freeze your SSN. Then, file a police report. Immediately after freezing, contact the authorities.
It's free to freeze your credit file, and it won't impact your credit. Note that you'll need to request a credit freeze with all three major credit bureaus to achieve the most protection.
On AnnualCreditReport.com you are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. These agencies include Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing financial hardships.
Can someone else freeze my credit report? No, unless you are under 16 or you have a legal financial caregiver, someone else cannot freeze your credit report. Anyone attempting to freeze another person's credit will have to have proof of their authority to do so.
You'll want to place a free credit freeze on all three of your credit reports, including from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. That said, the process can vary from agency to agency. With Experian, you can visit the Experian Freeze Center and request it online or call 888-397-3742.
Although ranges vary depending on the credit scoring model, generally credit scores from 580 to 669 are considered fair; 670 to 739 are considered good; 740 to 799 are considered very good; and 800 and up are considered excellent.
The quickest and easiest way to unfreeze your credit report is to contact the credit bureau (or bureaus) you used to freeze your credit either online or by phone. But you also have the option to contact them by mail.
To freeze your credit by mail, send your request to TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016. You will need to include your legal name, address, birthdate and Social Security number, along with copies of documents verifying your identification and address, such as driver's license, passport, utility bills, etc.
As a part of your membership in Experian CreditWorks, you can lock or unlock your Experian credit report whenever you want, with no additional fee and no waiting period.
This is done by calling our National 800 number (Toll Free 1-800-772-1213 or at our TTY number at 1-800-325-0778). Once requested, any automated telephone and electronic access to your Social Security record is blocked.
Credit freezes and credit locks both restrict access to your credit reports. ... In addition, credit freezes are free, while credit locks are offered as part of paid services from the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax).
File a police report or a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Report. This will help in case someone uses your Social Security number to commit fraud, since it will provide a legal record of the theft.