Freeze, ID Thief!
About Security Freeze
security freeze is one of the most effective ways to prevent identity theft.
116, beginning September 1, 2007, 39 states can put
a security freeze on their credit files, which means those files cannot
be shared with potential creditors.
A security freeze allows consumers to proactively "lock
up" their credit information so no one can access it without their
permission. This prevents a thief from falsely using someone else's identity
to take out a new mortgage, apply for a credit card or get financing.
The freeze is easily lifted if consumers plan to make
a major purchase, open a new credit card or take out a loan.
Background Checks - A freeze will prevent
an employer from getting your credit report as part of a background check.
You have to lift the freeze to allow a complete background check, just
as you do to apply for credit. Be sure to request a security freeze lift
at least 5 or more days prior to a temporary freeze lift to avoid any complications.
The credit bureaus must lift a freeze no later than three business days
after receiving your request.
A security freeze will NOT:
- lower your credit score
- prevent you from getting your own credit report
- stop credit card companies from sending you pre-approved credit offers.
To stop most pre-approved credit offers, call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688)
or go online to www.optoutprescreen.com.
You can choose to opt out for five years or permanently.
Using a Security Freeze
What will It Cost You?
costs $3 to place a security freeze on your credit files with a credit
bureau, for a total of $9 to freeze your files with all three credit bureaus.
For a security freeze to be effective for married couples, both spouses
have to freeze their separate credit files. The total cost for a couple
- There is no fee for identity theft victims who have filed a police
report of identity theft to freeze their files.
To have a freeze temporarily lifted also costs $3 per credit bureau.
There is no fee to permanently remove a security freeze.
how to Request a Security Freeze
To place a security freeze on your credit files, you
must write to each of the three credit bureaus.
- Provide identifying information including, at a minimum, your name,
address and Social Security number.
- Pay the $3 security freeze fee by check or credit card, unless you
are an identity theft victim. If you are a victim, provide a copy of
the police report of identity theft.
- For a security freeze to be effective for married couples, both spouses
have to freeze their separate credit files, via separate letters requesting
the freeze. The total cost for a couple is $3 x 3 credit bureaus x 2
people = $18.
- Send separate letters to each of the three credit bureaus. For married
couples, both spouses must request to freeze their credit files via separate
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
(888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
- The credit bureaus must place the freeze on your files within five
business days of receiving your written request. If you are a victim
of identity theft, they must place the freeze within 24 hours of getting
the police report and information confirming your identity.
- Each of the credit bureaus will send you written notice that the freeze
is in place within five days of it going into effect. This confirmation
- a Personal Identification Number (PIN),
- instructions on how to lift or remove the freeze
How To Temporarily Lift a Security Freeze
To open a new credit account, take out a new loan or
allow a background check, consumers need to temporarily lift the security
freeze on their credit files. It can be lifted for a specific period of
time or for a specific creditor.
- Contact each of the credit bureaus by phone and use your Personal Identification
- Specify whether you want to temporarily lift the freeze for a specific
date range or creditor.
- Pay the $3 lift fee to each credit bureau.
The credit bureaus must lift a freeze no later than
three business days after receiving your request.
How To Permanently Remove a Security Freeze
You can permanently remove a security freeze at any
time by calling the credit bureaus and using your PIN. There is no fee
for permanently removing a security freeze.
The credit bureaus must remove the security freeze within
Who Can Still Access a Frozen Credit File?
When a file is protected by a security freeze, a creditor
who requests that file will get a message or a code indicating that the
file is frozen. However, when you have a security freeze on your credit
file, certain entities can still access it.
- Your report can still be released to your existing creditors or to
collection agencies acting on their behalf. They can use it to review
or collect on your account.
- Other creditors may also use your information to make offers of credit,
unless you opt out of receiving
- Government agencies may access your report for collecting child support
payments or taxes, or for investigating Medicaid fraud. Government agencies
may also access it in response to a court or administrative order, a
subpoena or a search warrant.
A fraud alert:
- is a special message that people who suspect they may be identity theft
victims can have placed on the report a credit issuer receives when it
checks a consumer's credit rating
- tells the credit issuer there may be fraudulent activity on an account
- can help protect consumers against identity theft
- can slow your ability to get new credit, but does not stop you from
using existing credit cards or other accounts
A fraud alert is not the same as a security freeze.
While a fraud alert may slow down issuing new credit, it does not stop
it. A security freeze will stop someone else getting new credit in your
Contact Consumer Protection
You can get your questions or concerns about using a
security freeze by contacting the Office of Consumer
Protection in your state.