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How To: Place a Credit Freeze

Everyone in the United States has the ability to place a freeze on an existing credit report, regardless of the reason.  Credit freezes restrict access to your credit report and assist with preventing new lines of credit from being opened in your name and can be placed at no cost to the consumer.

If you need access to your credit once you have placed a credit freeze, you will need to go through the necessary steps to lift the freeze and place the freeze again once it has been lifted.  If you need to temporarily grant access to your credit report for a specific company (e.g., for a job or a specific creditor), you can “thaw” your credit by contacting each credit reporting agency (CRA).

Existing creditors will still have access to your credit report, regardless of the placement of a credit freeze.

Placing or Lifting a Credit Freeze – Adults 18 Years or Older

To place, thaw or lift a credit freeze, you will need to contact each CRA separately and provide proof of your identity. The easiest way to freeze and unfreeze is online through each CRA. If you do not have the PIN required to file a credit freeze, there are steps you can take to access your account and freeze or thaw your credit. With Equifax, you can use an online myEquifax account to freeze and thaw your credit report. Experian and TransUnion changed their policies around security freezes and PINs. A PIN is no longer required; only an account username and password. However, this only applies to anyone who is pacing or lifting a credit freeze online. TransUnion still requires a PIN in certain areas. The quickest way to request a freeze is typically through each of their websites:

Credit Freeze for Protected Consumers (Minor Children and Dependent Adults):

If there is no credit file for a child younger than 16 years old, or a dependent adult, you can request that the CRAs create a credit file and freeze the credit report immediately upon creation, at no cost, to prevent new accounts from being opened in the child’s or dependent adult’s name.

If your child is 16 or 17 and does not have a credit report, you will need to continue to monitor his/her credit.  Only some states have a law that allows parents of minors that are 16 or 17 years of age to create and freeze a credit report, and these generally are associated with a fee.  The National Conference of State Legislatures has a chart that lists each state and the corresponding laws/fees.  Please note that most states allow for no fees if the individual requesting a freeze (or his/her parent or legal guardian) can prove he/she is a victim of identity theft.

A credit freeze for a minor or dependent adult cannot be done online, but each CRA has a website link explaining the steps you need to take: