A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is an anti-fraud measure. When your account’s under a credit freeze, a credit bureau refrains from sharing your credit report with any third parties.
Credit freezes are often put into place by those who suspect that pesky frauds may have stolen their identities.
A credit freeze means potential creditors will be unable to access your credit report, and we all know how much lenders love checking those. Without a credit report to review, lenders are unlikely to approve loans.
By freezing your credit, you’re making it more difficult for an identity thief to open new lines of credit in your name. Suppose an identity thief tries to take out a mortgage in your name; without having access to your credit report, a lender won’t be compelled to grant them the loan, and your credit report won’t be at threat.
Until you unlock a credit freeze, no financial institutions or third parties will be able to access your credit information.
When Is It Safe to Lift The Freeze?
If you want to take out a loan, you’ll need to unfreeze your credit reports. You’ll have to ensure that identity theft isn’t on your horizon.
You can ensure your identity is safe by contacting all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) and setting up credit monitoring. If you’re not receiving any fraud alerts, you can unfreeze your credit report or enact a temporary lift.
Temporarily lifting your freeze will give you a few business days to shop around for a new credit card or mortgage if needed. Remember that freezing and unfreezing your credit report won’t be of any cost to you or impact that precious credit score of yours.
If you’re a high-risk individual, then it’s best to go down the route of a temporary lift or secured credit check. High-risk individuals have recently experienced identity theft or are aware that their information has been leaked.
If you’ve never had any run-ins with credit fraud or identity thieves, then it should be safe for you to keep your credit unlocked as long as you’re keeping a vigilant eye on your reports.
How To Unfreeze Your Credit
If you’re looking to unfreeze your credit altogether, you’ll need to contact all three credit bureaus. Yet, you may be in a position where you’ll only have to contact one of the credit bureaus. If you’re trying to unfreeze your credit to receive a particular loan, you can ask the creditor which credit report they’ll be looking at and contact that bureau specifically.
Each bureau has its own systems in place for unfreezing your credit; here’s what we’ve got:
How to Unfreeze Credit with Experian
By getting in touch with Experian, it shouldn’t be long before your credit becomes thawed.
An Experian credit freeze lift can be for any specific time; there's no maximum. However, beware that the online form discloses that you can't change the date range for unfreezing your credit once you've submitted it.
Experian offers a single-use PIN for some extra reassurance that your credit is safe. A single-use pin helps ensure your personal information is seen only by a creditor that you’ve authorized, so it’s not just out in the open. Experian will give you the PIN, and you can give it to the entity you’d like to check your credit.
Contact Website: Experian
Contact Address: Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
Contact Number: 888-397-3742
How to Unfreeze Credit with Equifax
You can unfreeze your Equifax credit report online by creating a "myEquifax" account. For Equifax, you’ll only need a PIN if you choose to unfreeze by phone or mail; you won’t need a PIN for online freezing or lifting.
Equifax allows you to unfreeze your credit temporarily for a specific creditor or a specified period, from one day to one year. You can also permanently unfreeze your credit, but you’ll need to stay on top of your risk for credit fraud.
Contact Website: Equifax
Contact Address: Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348
Contact Number: 800-349-9960
How to Unfreeze Credit with TransUnion
To unfreeze your TransUnion credit report online, you may need to sign up for a TransUnion account with a username and password, no PIN necessary.
You can lift a TransUnion credit freeze for anywhere between one and thirty days, beginning on a start date you pick. Like with the other two bureaus, you can unfreeze your report for certain creditors and provide them with an access code to be used for a limited time.
Contact Website: TransUnion
Contact Address: TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Contact Number: 888-909-8872
Thawed and Ready To Go!
Building credit isn’t always easy, and ensuring that your hard work stays intact is what’s most important. If you’ve experienced identity theft or credit fraud, then you know that the struggle to bounce back is real.
Nobody wants to go through the legal process of regaining complete control of their own identity. If you’re worried about unfreezing your credit, it’s best to speak with a credit counselor, a credit bureau personnel, or the creditor you’re looking to work with.
As long as you know that your credit and identity are safe and intact, you should have no problems contacting the credit bureaus and processing a temporary lift.
How Extra Can Help You Avoid Unfreezing Your Report
If you find yourself applying for a new line of credit just to rebuild your damaged credit score, don’t. There are other ways to improve your credit score without risk. You can benefit from the help and perks of Extra.
Extra is the first debit card designed to build credit. To start building your credit with an Extra debit card all you have to do is sign up online and connect the card with your bank account. Swipe away as you usually would, and you’ll begin to build credit.
To start building with Extra, they won’t require a credit check, meaning there’s no reason to unfreeze your credit report. You can avoid the risk of unfreezing your report and having fraud and theft sneak back into your life.
You have enough to deal with; Extra is here to help you manage your credit with less of a hassle.