Identity theft is a stressful and serious situation no one wants to find themselves in. When it happens, immediately reporting it to the proper authorities is crucial. That also means contacting your creditors and freezing your credit report to ensure your information stays safe.
But what happens when you want to apply for a new credit card, get an auto loan, or some other line of credit? All of those require a credit check. Not only that, but some employers may review your credit report during the hiring process. When this happens, these tips from Credit Karma can tell you what you need to know to lift a credit freeze.
How To Lift A Credit Freeze At Each Credit Bureau
To reverse a credit freeze, contacting Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion is your first step. You could also ask the creditor you are applying to or your potential employer which agency it refers to when they conduct credit inquiries. This prevents you from lifting the freeze with every bureau, which puts your personal information at risk.
You can contact the credit bureaus over the phone, online, or through the mail. You will need to submit your name, address, birthday, and Social Security number.
When you initially request a credit freeze, you receive a special PIN from each credit agency. Make sure not to lose these PINs because you will need them to reverse the freeze in the future.
Here’s what to expect when you reverse a credit freeze with each credit bureau:
- Phone: 1-888-298-0045
- Mail: Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348-5788
- Website: equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
You can make changes to your credit profile through your online myEquix account. From this portal, you can also monitor your report for signs of fraudulent activity.
- Phone: 1-888-397-3742
- Mail: Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
- Website: experian.com/freeze/center.html
You can call, send a letter, or visit Experian’s Freeze Center to place, temporarily lift, or permanently lift a freeze. Experian will provide you a single-use PIN you can give to one creditor. This allows the lender to view your history without the need to list the freeze completely.
Keep in mind that when you make changes to your report, you must file the original PIN Experian issued when you first placed the freeze.
- Phone: 1-888-909-8872
- Mail: TransUnion, P.O. Box 160, Woodlyn, PA 19094
- Website: transunion.com/credit-freeze
Like Equifax and Experian, you can place or lift credit freezes through TransUnion’s online portal or the TransUnion app. You can conveniently schedule a credit lift up to 15 days early so creditors can check your history during your selected timeframe.
TransUnion also offers a one-time PIN, but unlike Experian, you can give it to multiple lenders during this time. You will need this PIN if you contact TransUnion over the phone, but not if your request is online or made through the app.
Do Credit Freezes Apply To Your Credit Score?
No, credit freezes only restrict your credit report. You can view your scores even with a freeze in place, though you can’t open new lines of credit since many lenders require your whole credit report to determine your creditworthiness.
How To Choose Between A Temporary Lift And Permanent Lift
With a temporary lift, creditors can check your credit report during a time frame that you establish. Credit Karma and other experts recommend requesting a temporary lift since it’s less of a hassle and happens automatically. This ensures you avoid forgetting to put it back in place and leaving your identity unprotected.
Once your identity is stolen, you never know when — or where — it will surface. You’ll have to be vigilant about protecting yourself for the rest of your life. A permanent lift has a much higher risk than a temporary one. For that reason, most experts advise against permanently lifting a credit freeze.
How Long Does It Take To Lift A Credit Freeze?
The credit bureaus must lift a credit freeze within one hour of receiving a request online or over the phone. If you mail your request, the agencies will remove the freeze within three business days.
How Much Does A Credit Freeze Cost?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the three major credit bureaus cannot charge for lifting or placing a credit freeze.
- Schaut, Sarah. “How to Lift a Credit Freeze at the 3 Major Credit Bureaus.” Credit Karma, 11 Nov. 2020, www.creditkarma.com/id-theft/i/lift-credit-freeze.