Credit Freeze

When and How to Freeze Your Credit

by Benjamin Tarshish on March 20, 2017

What is a credit freeze, and how does it work?

A credit freeze is something that you can do if you want to block your credit reports from being accessible. They provide you with a secret PIN number that you can use if you ever need to apply for credit, so that you can temporarily allow your credit applications to be processed. However, the general idea is that if someone has stolen your identity or is otherwise an unauthorized user of your Social Security Number, they will not be able to open up new credit in your name, because they don’t know your secret PIN.

When your credit is frozen, you can still continue using your existing credit lines (for example, your credit cards). The freeze only covers new applications for credit.

In the past, you were able to freeze your credit for free, but only if you were the victim of identity theft. However, in recent years, all of the three major credit bureaus have started new policies allowing for non-victims to be able to freeze their credit as well for a fee and to do this preemptively in an effort to prevent becoming a victim in the future. Most states also have put in place laws that enable residents to freeze their credit.  Currently, there are twenty-seven (27) states that allow a child’s parents to place a freeze on their minor child’s credit report. For a list of how these laws vary by state, please refer to the NCSL’s Consumer Report Security Freeze State Laws.

Typically you will pay between three and ten dollars ($3-$10 USD), per bureau, in order to freeze your credit report with them. It is strongly recommended that you freeze your credit with all of the bureaus.

When you want to open up your credit for a given creditor, temporarily allow access by any creditor, or remove the freeze completely, the cost will be between free and ten dollars. If you are someone who frequently needs creditors to be able to access your credit report, you should take this into consideration before enacting a credit freeze. There will be an expense involved each time you want to open up access to your credit report.

In Minnesota, your credit freeze will remain active until you explicitly request a removal. This is true in most states, with the exception of South Dakota, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. For these states, currently the credit freeze automatically expires after seven years.

How to Freeze Your Credit with Each of the Three Bureaus

Equifax

  • A credit freeze can be requested online.
  • In Minnesota, for ID theft victims, the cost is free. For non-victims in Minnesota, it costs $5. If you live in a different state, check the state fee listing.
  • If your PIN does not show up on time, call 1-888-298-0045. They will verify your identity and send you your PIN within seven days.
  • An unfreeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-800-685-1111.

Experian

  • A credit freeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-888-397-3742 (press 2, then wait for security freeze instructions).
  • In Minnesota, for ID theft victims, the cost is free. For non-victims in Minnesota, it costs $5. If you live in a different state, check the state fee listing.
  • An unfreeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-888-397-3742.

Transunion

  • A credit freeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-888-909-8872.
  • In Minnesota, for ID theft victims, the cost is free. For non-victims in Minnesota, it costs $5. If you live in a different state, check the state fee listing.
  • An unfreeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-888-909-8872.

If you’re interested in freezing your credit because you have been wrongfully contacted by debt collectors, and you feel the debt collector is saying or doing anything unfair; untrue; harassing, oppressive, or abusive, please contact our Consumer Protection Attorneys to discuss your specific situation in more detail.  If our Consumer Protection Attorneys agree to handle your case, we make the debt collector pay our attorney fees.  For a better understanding of the damages you may be entitled to and for a Free Case Evaluation, please contact attorney Adam Strauss now at (952) 361-5556 or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.

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