How to “Freeze” Your Credit
What is a security freeze (also called a “credit freeze” or just “freeze”) of your information at a credit bureau? A security freeze requires that the bureau does not divulge your credit information to any one other than those required by law. In effect, if you freeze your data at each of the credit bureaus, new credit (e.g. loans and credit cards) are highly unlikely to be established in your name because potential lenders cannot determine your credit quality when the bureaus will not release your information.
Note that these bureaus, while required by law to furnish a “freeze” option, would much prefer that you buy one of their fee-laden credit protection services. Freezes reduce the bureaus’ profitability.
However, a freeze will not preclude mischief in your current credit lines (and cards).
When is a security freeze appropriate? A freeze is a wise decision for people who are not interested in procuring new credit lines (and/or credit cards). With a freeze, it is still possible to get new credit, it is just a bit cumbersome. See exhibit A.
We believe it would be prudent for many individuals to initiate security freezes at all four of the credit bureaus:
|Equifax||800-846-5279||https://www.equifax.com/||Equifax Security Freeze
P.O Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30378
P.O Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
P.O Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
|Innovis Assistance||800-540-2505||https://www.innovis.com/||Innovis Consumer
P.O Box 26
WESCAP has tested the veracity of the data shown above.
General caution, basic information required. Because you are required to give up a lot of information to do a security freeze, criminals are setting up bogus Mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and websites to collect that information. The basic information required is shown on Exhibit B, a form WESCAP developed and then used for requesting a freeze from each of the bureaus.
Fees for a freeze. Maximum fees are set by state law (Exhibit C). Fees range from free to $10 for a freeze. CA residents over age 65 pay nothing. You may pay by check or money order or by furnishing credit card information.
One of our advisors has completed security freezes at all four of these bureaus for himself and his spouse (eight requests). He used three methods: US mail, telephone, and credit bureau website. He could act on behalf of his spouse because no signature or biological ID (e.g. fingerprint) was ever required.
When you request a credit freeze, the bureau will furnish you a “pin number” ID to use when you want to unfreeze or “thaw” the account or otherwise access your account. They furnish the pin by mail to your address of record.
You may request a freeze by US mail, telephone or on each bureau’s website.
US mail This is probably the most secure method and for many people the simplest to implement. Mail probably avoids scammers ands definitely avoids the attempts by the bureaus to sell you additional fee-laden protection services instead of simply implementing a freeze.
This method is also the slowest.
Exhibit D has step-by step instructions for requesting a freeze by mail which will minimize the effort required.
Telephone. This method is fast (2 to 5 minutes for each request). We used it for two freeze requests. In the two cases the respondant was a machine asking questions about potential fraud and then asking for identification numbers only: social security number, date of birth, street address number, zip code. Transunion asked us to create a 6 digit pin number immediately after stating that a freeze was in place. The other bureau said a pin would be mailed to us. A telephone call partially avoids the attempts by each bureau to sell you additional fee-laden protection services instead of simply doing a credit freeze.
Please use the phone numbers shown above as we believe scammers are creating alternate phone numbers.
Website This method is not as fast as mail or telephone, as you must type in the required information for each request and still navigate the website which is full of prompts trying to sell you additional fee-laden protection services instead of doing a credit freeze.
If you access websites please use the web addresses shown above. Scammers are creating alternate sites.
Please call us if you have questions about this.
- I’ve Frozen My Credit for 10 Years. It’s a Hassle but Worth It
- Credit Bureau Security Freeze Request Form
- Fees for a Freeze by State
- Security Freeze Request by US Mail