How To Freeze Your Credit With Experian, Equifax and TransUnion

Written by |

Freezing your credit with all three major credit bureaus is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself against identity theft and stop criminals from opening lines of credit in your name — and it’s free!

In this article, we’ll show you how to place a security freeze on your credit with all three main credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

We’ll also answer questions that Team Clark gets most often surrounding credit freezes and let you know about the one key step you need to take before you freeze your credit.

Freeze Your Credit With Experian, Equifax and TransUnion

You’ll need to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies individually to freeze your credit with them. You can do this online, via the phone, or through the U.S. mail.

The quickest and easiest way to freeze your credit is online. Below you’ll find direct links to the credit freeze page for each credit bureau. In addition, we’ve included phone numbers and addresses.

Credit BureauOnlineBy PhoneBy Mail
ExperianExperian Credit Freeze page888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
EquifaxEquifax Credit Freeze page888-298-0045Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
TransUnionTransUnion Credit Freeze page800-916-8800TransUnion
P.O. Box 160
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Important note: If you choose to request your credit freeze via mail, make sure you do so by certified mail. You can use this sample letter to do it. Please be sure to include the attachments necessary to freeze your credit by mail.

What Information Will I Need To Provide To Freeze My Credit?

In order to freeze your credit, you will need to give each credit bureau some information in order to prove your identity. This typically includes your:

  • Name
  • Previous name(s) (if applicable)
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number

You will also likely be asked some questions about prior places of residence and credit accounts you may have or have had in the past. This is all to ensure that you are actually the one requesting the freeze.

How Do I Lift, Unfreeze or Thaw My Credit Freeze?

Once you’ve frozen your credit, you may find that you need to apply for a loan or open a new line of credit.

In that case, you’ll need to unfreeze (some credit bureaus may use the terms “lift” or “thaw”) your credit with one or more of the credit bureaus, depending on which one your lender uses.

Credit BureauOnlineBy PhoneBy Mail
ExperianExperian Credit Unfreeze page888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
EquifaxEquifax Credit Unfreeze page800-349-9960Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
TransUnionTransUnion Credit Unfreeze page888-916-8800TransUnion
P.O. Box 160
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Here are some important things to keep in mind when you go to lift your credit freeze:

  • If you unfreeze your credit online, you don’t need the PIN that you set up when you froze your credit.
  • If you choose to call the credit bureaus to have your freeze lifted, you will be asked for your PIN, but if you don’t remember it you can still unfreeze your credit by answering some ‘challenge’ questions.
  • If you request to lift your credit freeze by mail, you will be required to provide some documentation (like a driver’s license) to prove your identity.

If you are having issues unfreezing your credit or retrieving your PIN, your goal at that point is to gain access to your account. Here’s how to get in touch with a live person at the major credit bureaus.

Common Credit Freeze Questions

Team Clark’s Consumer Action Center gets a lot of calls about freezing your credit. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions:

  • How long does it take before your credit freeze is activated? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that the agency must activate the freeze within one business day if you freeze your credit online or by phone. If you request online that your credit be thawed, the agency must lift the freeze within one hour. If requested by phone, it must be done within three business days, according to the FTC.
  • Will freezing my credit hurt my credit score? The short answer is “no.” Freezing your credit will not hurt your credit score at all.
  • Does freezing my credit affect my existing credit cards? No, freezing your credit has no effect on your existing credit cards. You will still be able to use them as you have been. However, if you want to request a credit line increase from your credit card company, you may need to unfreeze your credit.
  • Can I still apply for a loan or a new line of credit with a credit freeze? Yes, but you’ll have to unfreeze (thaw) your credit temporarily. See the information above for how to do that.
  • What’s the difference between a credit freeze and a credit lock? There’s a big difference. A credit lock costs money in most cases and should not be necessary if you freeze your credit. Read more about it here.
  • Can I place a credit freeze for my child? Yes, you can. Here’s how to do it with all three main credit-reporting agencies.

Final Thoughts

As we said at the outset, freezing your credit is the most important step you can take to stop criminals from opening accounts in your name. But even with your credit frozen, you’ll still want to keep an eye out on your credit reports and scores.

That’s why money expert Clark Howard says that before you freeze your credit you should sign up for free credit monitoring with Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.

Sign up for these free tools to monitor your credit going forward to make sure your credit freeze is working as it should. Don’t pay for credit monitoring!

Experian, Equifax and TransUnion all offer credit monitoring services that cost money, but why pay when you can do it for free?

If you haven’t already frozen your credit, take a few moments today to get it done. The small amount of time you spend following these steps will be well worth it when you consider the peace of mind you’ll have going forward.

If you have more questions about freezing your credit, contact Clark’s free Consumer Action Center.

Welcome bonuses can be a great way to boost the value of a credit card. Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses for 2023 - Team Clark spent hours reviewing the market for credit card sign-up bonuses and evaluated them according to the guidelines for usage set by money expert Clark Howard. Clark believes credit cards with exorbitant annual fees are a bad idea for most…
Team Clark's cell phone expert ranks the best cell phone plans and deals. Best Cell Phone Plans in 2024: The Cheapest Plan for Every Need - Team Clark ranks the best cell phone plans and deals! See our favorites for unlimited data, families and cheap plans starting at $10/month.