A credit security freeze puts a “lock” on your credit file and stops the credit reporting agency from sharing your credit information without your consent.
- Most businesses will not open new credit or loan accounts without first checking a consumer’s credit history. If your credit files are frozen, even someone who has stolen your name and Social Security number probably will not be able to get new credit in your name.
Even after your file is frozen, it can still be released to your existing creditors or collection agencies acting on their behalf.
- You can always order your own credit report, even if your file is frozen.
- Without a credit freeze, your information is always available to a prospective employer or landlord, certain other businesses, and to government agencies.
A security freeze does not affect or lower your credit score.
Requesting the Security Freeze
You will need to file a separate request with each of the three consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- EXPERIAN: www.experian.com/freeze or call toll-free 888-397-3742.
- TRANSUNION: www.transunion.com/securityfreeze or call toll-free 888-909-8872;
- EQUIFAX: https://www.freeze.equifax.com or call the automated line 800-685-1111.
It is free.
You will need to provide your full name, date of birth, social security number and current and previous mailing addresses. You may also be asked to provide a copy of your driver’s license and a recent utility bill.
- If you are a victim of identity theft, you will also have to provide a copy of the police report or affidavit of identity theft.
- For identity theft victims, the agencies must place the freeze within 48 hours after receiving the police report or affidavit of identity theft. For all other requests, the freeze must be in place within three business days.
Protect Your Children
Parents can take steps to protect their children from identity theft. If your child is under age 16, you can freeze their credit files too. The Federal Trade Commission has more information on its website.
Temporary Lift of the Credit Freeze
If you decide you want to open a new credit account or get a new loan, you can temporarily lift the freeze on your credit file. After you file the security freeze, the consumer reporting agency will send you a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and instructions on how to lift the freeze using your PIN. You must make a separate request to each agency, each time.
Credit Freeze for Phone, Cable and other Utility Services
If you have ever had a cell phone, cable or satellite television services, or paid a gas or electric bill, then the National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange likely has compiled a "data report" file on you. Just like the credit reporting agencies listed above, the Exchange sells the information it has compiled. To prevent an identity thief from establishing telephone, cable, or utility services using your name and information, you may wish to place a credit freeze on your "telecommunications and utilities" data report.
- File a credit freeze with the National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange.