As of September 21, 2018, freezing (and thawing) your credit report is free!Freezing your credit restricts access to your credit report. This makes it next to impossible for identity thieves to apply for credit in your name.Taking a few minutes (it took about 20 minutes for me) to freeze your credit at all three credit bureaus can save you time, headaches, and in some cases, money.Here’s what you need to know about your brand new opportunity to freeze (and thaw) your credit for free.
A credit security freeze prevents prospective creditors from looking at your credit report. Most of the time this means that nobody (including you) can apply for credit in your name.Your current creditors, some government entities like child support agencies, and credit monitoring companies can still review your credit. That means you can still monitor your credit through an app like CreditWise from Capital One or Credit Karma.
Now that it’s completely free to freeze your credit, there’s almost no downside to freezing your credit. However, there are a few common misperceptions about credit freezes. This is what you should know about credit freezes:
All three credit bureaus allow you to freeze your credit online, by phone, or via mail.The online portals are probably the easiest method since they don’t require gathering a bunch of documentation or dealing with customer service on the phone. However, we give details on how to freeze your credit using all three methods (online, phone, or mail).Remember, you must freeze your credit at all three major credit bureaus to protect yourself from identity theft. Here’s how to freeze your credit at all three bureaus.
Online: Click the “Get Started” button on this page. You’ll have to create an account, and then Equifax will freeze your credit within one business day.Phone: (800) 349-9960.Mail: Send this form along with the requested documentation to:Equifax Information Services LLCP.O. Box 105788Atlanta, GA 30348-5788
Online: Visit this page. Choose add a security freeze, and then select “Freeze my own credit file.” You’ll create an account and request a freeze. Experian will freeze your credit file within one business day.Phone: (888) 397-3742.Mail: You must send the following information to Experian:Send information to:Experian Security FreezeP.O. Box 9554Allen, TX 75013
Online: Visit this page. Choose “Add Freeze” (an orange button). You’ll create an account and verify your identity. Then TransUnion will freeze your credit within one business day.Phone: (888) 909-8872.Mail: You must send the following information to TransUnion:Send information to:TransUnion LLC P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016
In addition to freezing your own credit for free, you can freeze your children’s credit profile for free. There are a few circumstances in which freezing your child’s credit makes a ton of sense.First, if you know your child has been a victim of identity theft, you’ll want that child to have frozen credit until they are ready to apply for credit on their own.Second, unfortunately family members (including an estranged ex-spouse) who are financially struggling may choose to steal your child’s identity. This is especially common if your child shares a name with the person stealing their identity.If you’re worried about your family member’s actions, it makes sense to freeze your child’s credit. That way, you won’t have to worry about confronting your family member in the future.
Unlike when you freeze your own credit, you cannot freeze your child’s credit online or via the phone. Instead, you’ll have to mail in documentation and a request to freeze your child’s credit.To do this, you’ll follow a simple three-step process: gather documentation, write a request letter, and mail the letter and documentation to the credit bureaus.
For the guardian, provide one of the following:For the guardian, to prove your address, provide one of the following:To show you are the minor’s parent or authorized representative, provide:For the minor, provide both:
Use this format to request a freeze at all three bureaus: (Replace all italicized information with your information, or your child’s information.)To Whom It May Concern:Please place a permanent security freeze on my child’s, (, , , ), credit file.Parent InformationName: (, , , )Current Address: (, , , )Previous Address (include if you’ve moved in the last three years): (, , , )Social Security Number: Date of Birth: Child InformationName: (, , , )Current Address: (, , , )Previous Address (include if you’ve moved in the last three years): (, , , )Social Security Number: Date of Birth: Sincerely,
You’ll mail the letter (or this form) and the supplemental documentation to:Equifax Information Services LLCP.O. Box 105788Atlanta, GA 30348-5788
You’ll mail the letter (or this form) and the supplemental documentation to:Experian Security FreezeP.O. Box 9554Allen, TX 75013
Mail the letter and supporting documentation to:TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze P.O. Box 380 Woodlyn, PA 19094