Credit Freeze Guide: The Best Way To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

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What exactly is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze allows you to seal your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can apply to temporarily “thaw” your credit when legitimate applications for credit and services need to be processed. The added layer of security means that thieves can’t establish new credit in your name even if they can obtain your personal information.

Freezing your credit files has no impact whatsoever on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards. You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

Freezes have also been accessible for free to all victims of identity theft for some years, but recently all three of the major credit bureaus affirmed new rules that now allow non-victims to have access to credit freezes as well for a small fee. Also, most states and Puerto Rico have enacted laws establishing credit freezes for residents of their nation.

Residents of various states may also freeze the credit reports of their minor children. Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures to see what the law is in your state.

The price ranges from around $3 to $10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report; a couple of states have higher fees.

*When you do a credit freeze, it is imperative that you freeze your credit with all three bureaus.*

How to freeze your credit card with all 3 bureaus

(Find how to credit freeze all three bureaus, freeze social security number, freeze credit experian,credit freeze equifax, Why you should freeze your credit, clark howard credit freeze, equifax credit lock and lot more.)

Related: Guides: How To Freeze Your Credit Report at Each Credit Bureau

TransUnion

Freeze Your Credit Now!

Internet: Hit the Credit Freeze page here
By phone: 1-888-909-8872
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.

  • Use the following address:
    TransUnion LLC
    P.O. Box 2000
    Chester, PA 19016

Equifax

Freeze Your Credit Now!

Online: Visit this page to freeze your credit with Equifax.

Important note: With such high traffic to the website, if you can’t get your request processed, just wait about a week and try again.
By phone: 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents please call 1-800-349-9960)
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.

  • Use the following address:
    Equifax Security Freeze
    P.O. Box 105788
    Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian

Freeze Your Credit Now!

Online: check the Credit Freeze webpage here
By phone: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When you’re on a call with Experian, kindly press 2, and lso heed to the prompts for a security freeze.
By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.

  • Use the following address:
    Experian Security Freeze
    P.O. Box 9554
    Allen, TX 75013

When shouldn’t you freeze your credit?

If your credit reports are often accessed for work or because you create new accounts with various financial institutions on a regular basis, it is not advised that you freeze your accounts. The costs to regularly “thaw” your reports would tend to be excessive.

How/when to thaw your credit

The cost to “thaw” your reports for one creditor — or for a specific period — range from free to $10.
Four states remove your credit freeze automatically after seven years. These countries are Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

In most states, your credit freeze remains permanently on your files until you request removal. But not so in the countries listed above, according to the Consumers Union’s guide to security freeze protection.

If you’re a citizen of one of these states aforementioned, pay close attention. It’ll be nice for you to set up some calendar notice for seven years from the day of placement. That will serve as a reminder to renew your credit freeze state before it drops off your radar entirely and you go months or years without this key protection against identity theft!

Below you’ll find directions and links to assist you in obtaining your credit freeze or thaw from each major bureau.

Detailed instructions: How to freeze and thaw your credit with each agency

EQUIFAX CREDIT FREEZE

  • You can also freeze your Credit online or by mail – return receipt demanded.
  • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
  • Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
  • If your PIN is late arriving, call 1-888-298-0045. They will ask you for some ID and arrange for your PIN to be sent to you in 4-7 days.
    Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Equifax credit freeze by snail mail, internet or by just giving them a call on 1-800-685-1111 (N.Y. residents dial 1-800-349-9960).
  • Important details on freezing a child’s credit using Equifax can be seen here.
  • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
    Equifax Security Freeze
    P.O. Box 105788
    Atlanta, GA. 30348

EXPERIAN CREDIT FREEZE

  • Credit freezes may be done online; by certified mail – return receipt requested; or by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 then follow prompts for security freeze.
  • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
    Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
  • You can also freeze a child’s credit report. The information contained at this link is applicable for all three credit bureaus. You must first write a letter to each bureau to learn if your minor child has a credit report and if so, then you can proceed to freeze it.
  • Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your Experian credit freeze online or by calling 1-888-397-3742.
  • Info on freezing a child’s credit with Experian can be found here.
  • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
    Experian
    P.O. Box 9554
    Allen, TX. 75013

TRANSUNION CREDIT FREEZE

  • Credit freezes may be done online, by phone (1-888-909-8872) or by certified mail – return receipt requested.
  • Check your state’s listing for the exact cost of your credit freeze and to see if there is a reduction in cost if you are a senior citizen.
  • Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
  • Unfreeze: Do a temporary thaw of your security freeze transunion credit online (click “Manage An Existing Freeze”) or by calling 1-888-909-8872.
  • Info on freezing a child’s credit with TransUnion can be found here.
  • If requesting a freeze by mail, use the following address:
    TransUnion LLC
    P.O. Box 2000
    Chester, PA 19016

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