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How to Freeze and Unfreeze Your Credit for Free (Kid’s Too!)

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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.

Quick Navigation

What Is a Credit Freeze?
Important Things to Know About Credit Freezes
How to Freeze Your Credit at All Three Credit Bureaus
Equifax
Experian
TransUnion
How to Freeze Your Child’s Credit at All Three Credit Bureaus
What You Need to Freeze Your Child’s Credit

What Is a Credit Freeze?

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.

Important Things to Know About Credit Freezes

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:

  • Credit freezes are not the same as credit locks. Credit locks work like credit freezes, but they are not free under Federal law. If you want to restrict access to your credit account, you need to ask for a credit freeze.
  • You have to freeze your credit at all three major credit reporting bureaus. Freezing your credit at just one bureau is not an effective way to freeze your credit.

How to Freeze Your Credit at All Three Credit Bureaus

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.

Equifax

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 LLC
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348-5788

Experian

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:

  • Letter requesting a security freeze
  • Your full name including middle initial (and generation)
  • Social Security number
  • Complete addresses for the past two years
  • Date of birth
  • One copy of a government-issued identification card such as a driver’s license, state ID card, etc.
  • One copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, etc.

Send information to:

Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion

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:

  • Letter requesting a security freeze
  • Your full name including middle initial (and generation)
  • Social Security number
  • Complete addresses for the past two years
  • Date of birth
  • One copy of a government-issued identification card such as a driver’s license, state ID card, etc.
  • One copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, etc.

Send information to:

TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

How to Freeze Your Child’s Credit at All Three Credit Bureaus

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.

What You Need to Freeze Your Child’s Credit

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.

Gather Documentation

For the guardian, provide one of the following:

  • Copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued identification
  • Copy of your Social Security card
  • Copy of your birth certificate

For the guardian, to prove your address, provide one of the following:

  • Copy of a utility bill
  • Copy of a bank statement
  • Copy of an insurance statement

To show you are the minor’s parent or authorized representative, provide:

  • The minor’s birth certificate
  • A court order
  • A lawfully executed and valid power of attorney
  • Foster care certification

For the minor, provide both:

  • A copy of the minor’s Social Security card
  • A copy of the minor’s birth certificate

Write a Letter to Request a Security Freeze

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, (First, Middle Initial, Last, Generation), credit file.

Parent Information
Name: (First, Middle Initial, Last, Generation)
Current Address: (Street Address, City, State, Zip Code)
Previous Address (include if you’ve moved in the last three years): (Street Address, City, State, Zip Code)
Social Security Number: XXX-XX-XXXX
Date of Birth: MM/DD/YYYY

Child Information
Name: (First, Middle Initial, Last, Generation)
Current Address: (Street Address, City, State, Zip Code)
Previous Address (include if you’ve moved in the last three years): (Street Address, City, State, Zip Code)
Social Security Number: XXX-XX-XXXX
Date of Birth: MM/DD/YYYY

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

Send the Documentation and Letter to the Credit Bureaus

Equifax

You’ll mail the letter (or this form) and the supplemental documentation to:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348-5788

Experian

You’ll mail the letter (or this form) and the supplemental documentation to:
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion

Mail the letter and supporting documentation to:
TransUnion Protected Consumer Freeze
P.O. Box 380
Woodlyn, PA 19094

The post How to Freeze and Unfreeze Your Credit for Free (Kid’s Too!) appeared first on mimblewimble price blog.

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