8 Facts About Security Freezes

Reading time: 3 minutes

Highlights:

  • Security freezes are now free under federal law
  • Freezes must be placed separately at each nationwide credit bureau
  • Freezes will not impact your credit scores

A security freeze, also known as a credit freeze, is one way you can help protect your personal information against fraud or identity theft. While you may know that, and may even have a security freeze on your credit reports, here are some facts you may not know about security freezes.

1.    Security freezes are free 

A federal law that went into effect in September 2018 made placing, temporarily lifting, or permanently removing a security freeze free nationwide. 

2.    Security freezes and fraud alerts are not the same 

A fraud alert is a notice placed on your credit reports that alerts credit card companies and others who may extend you credit that you may have been a victim of fraud, including identity theft. With a fraud alert, if anyone – including you! – tries to open a new credit account in your name or make changes to an existing account, the company must take reasonable steps to confirm your identity, such as contacting you by phone at a number you provide, before granting the request. 

With a security freeze, your credit reports cannot be accessed (with some exceptions) to open new credit unless you temporarily lift or permanently remove the credit freeze.

3.    Security freezes can be temporarily lifted

If you’re applying for credit – buying a new vehicle, for instance – and you have a security freeze on your credit report, you can temporarily lift the security freeze to allow for a credit check. At Equifax, you can use your myEquifax account to lift a security freeze for a date range you specify. You can also lift a security freeze by phone by calling our automated line at (800) 349-9960 or calling Customer Care at (888) 298-0045. Afterward, your Equifax credit report will be frozen again.

4.    Security freezes do not impact your credit scores 

Placing a security freeze on your credit reports does not impact your credit scores in any way. It also doesn’t prevent you from getting free copies of your credit reports every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus through www.annualcreditreport.com

5.    Security freezes must be placed separately at each of the three nationwide credit bureau s

You’ll need to place a security freeze on your credit reports at each of the three nationwide credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

To place a security freeze on your Equifax credit report, create a myEquifax account. You can view the status of your security freeze, and also temporarily lift or permanently remove the freeze through myEquifax. You can also call our automated line at (800) 349-9960 or call Customer Care at (888) 298-0045. Contact Experian and TransUnion for information on placing a security freeze on those credit reports. 

6.    Security freezes can be placed on behalf of others 

With appropriate legal documentation, such as a signed Power of Attorney or court order, you can place a security freeze on the credit reports of an incapacitated adult. You can also place a security freeze on the credit reports of your children under the age of 16 with a birth certificate, a court order or a foster care certification. For both, you’ll need to verify your identity, their identity, and your ability to legally act on their behalf. 

7.    Security freezes will not exclude you from pre-screened offers 

Placing a security freeze on your credit reports will not prevent your receiving pre-screened credit card or insurance offers, because security freezes generally only prevent hard inquiries in response to an application for credit. If you’d like to opt out of receiving pre-screened offers, please visit www.optoutprescreen.com.

8.    Security freezes can’t protect you from other forms of fraud or identity theft

While a security freeze can help protect you by preventing certain access to your credit reports if someone attempts to open a new credit account in your name, it can’t help protect you against other forms of fraud, such as a stolen credit card number. It’s still important to check your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity. It’s also important to regularly check your credit reports to ensure all your information is accurate and complete.