How to Check if My Credit Report Is Frozen

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How to Refreeze Your Credit Report

The process for refreezing your credit reports is similar to unfreezing them.

  • If you requested a temporary thaw, your report will be automatically refrozen on the date you chose.
  • If you permanently unfreeze your credit reports, you can refreeze them through the Experian Security Freeze Center, and your TransUnion and myEquifax accounts.

You can also place a security freeze over the phone or by mail. Review each bureau’s policies for contact information and details, as you may need to print out and complete a form to submit the request by mail.

Each credit bureau also has an option for locking rather than freezing your credit report. Both credit locks and credit freezes can limit outside access to your credit reports. Credit locks may be easier to manage—turning them off and on could be as simple as toggling a button in an app.

Is There a Way to Speed Up the Process?

An hour isn’t long, but if you have an urgent need for a credit thaw because you’re vying for a coveted apartment rental or applying for a loan to pay for an emergency vet bill, you may be able to speed things up by explaining the circumstances to a phone representative at the credit bureau. If you need to send in your request, you can pay extra for overnight mail.

You may also be able to prepare ahead of time to minimize any delays or problems. TransUnion, for instance, allows you to schedule the end of a credit freeze 15 days in advance.

The Bottom Line Unfreezing your credit is quick and free, but there are a few things to remember: You can specify how long you want the freeze to be lifted—a day, a week, or more—or you can do it indefinitely. (As long as you know roughly how long your loan applications will take to process, setting a time frame is a good way to give yourself time to apply to multiple lenders to get the best rate.) If you opt for a temporary lift and know which credit bureau your lender will contact, you can save time by making your request at that bureau only. If you don’t know, make sure to contact all three bureaus. Don’t confuse a credit freeze with a credit lock. A lock is similar, but it can be applied or removed almost instantly either online or through a mobile app offered by the credit bureaus. Unlike a freeze, its protections aren’t guaranteed by law, and there may be a fee. A credit freeze only prevents a thief from opening a new account in your name. It doesn’t prevent him or her from making charges to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card, and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.

Why a Credit Freeze Is Typically a Better Choice

The credit bureaus tend to market credit locks as faster and more user-friendly than credit freezes, but in most cases, putting a freeze on your credit at all three agencies is the best way to protect yourself.

State law regulates credit freezes. Credit locks, however, are governed by a contract between you and the credit bureau. Contracts often have terms that aren’t favorable to the consumer, like arbitration clauses that prevent you from participating in a lawsuit. Also, if a thief fraudulently accesses your credit file while a freeze is in place, you’ll have better protection against liability under state law. Ultimately, state law will provide you with stronger protections than a contract that the credit bureau drafted. Also, as of September 2018, federal law regulates credit freezes as well.

Credit freezes might be less expensive. Freezing and lifting a freeze is free, which is obviously cheaper than having to pay a monthly fee for a credit lock.

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How to freeze your Experian credit report

To get started, click on the “Freeze my credit” button on the website. You’ll be asked, “What would you like to do?” You’ll be given four choices.

  1. Add a security freeze
  2. Remove or lift a security freeze.
  3. Retrieve my Personal Identification Number
  4. Grant a creditor one-time access to my credit file.

Click on “Add a credit freeze” and you’ll be guided through the process.

Credit freeze vs. fraud alert

A credit freeze differs from a fraud alert. A credit freeze “locks down” your credit. A fraud alert allows creditors to obtain a copy of your report as long as they take steps to verify your identity, according the Federal Trade Commission.

As with credit freezes, fraud alerts do not stop identity thieves from using your existing accounts. But they do help prevent them from opening new ones.

There are three types of fraud alerts.

  • Initial fraud alert: This type of fraud alert protects your information for 90 days. It’s often used by those who are concerned about identity theft, but haven’t been victimized yet.
  • Extended fraud alert: This type of alert protects the credit of identity theft victims for seven years.
  • Active duty alert: Intended for deploying servicemembers, this type of alert means businesses must take extra steps before granting credit in your name. The alerts last for one year and can be renewed for your time of deployment.

Temporary lift vs. permanent lift

When lifting a credit freeze, you have a choice between a temporary lift and a permanent lift.

A temporary lift allows creditors or companies access to your credit reports within a specific date range, determined by you. This option is likely the smarter choice because you can set it and forget it. Once the temporary lift expires, the credit freeze is reinstituted without your having to do a thing, which can help keep you protected.

A permanent lift is a little bit of a bigger deal. Your once-frozen and secure credit reports are now more vulnerable. With the option of a temporary lift available, a permanent removal is not recommended if you have any reason to be concerned about the security of your information.

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