Security freezes, credit monitoring, fraud alerts–all are ways to keep track of your credit and watch out for identity theft.
For information on credit monitoring and fraud alerts, take a look at our previous blog posts. In this post, we’ll cover the information you need to know about security freezes.
FAQ: What is a security freeze?
A security freeze prevents your credit report from being shared with most third parties. It can be a helpful tool to fight identity theft and fraud, because it prevents access to your credit.
You have the right to place a security freeze on your Equifax credit file under state law or the Equifax voluntary security freeze program. Only you can request that a security freeze be placed on your Equifax credit file, and only you can request that it be removed or temporarily lifted. A security freeze will remain on your Equifax credit file until you request permanent removal or a temporary lift of the security freeze for a specific credit grantor/credit file user or date range.
FAQ: Who needs a security freeze?
A security freeze is more important for a person who is no longer credit active. This is probably going to be an older person-someone who has already purchased a home and doesn’t need more credit cards. A security freeze will be more of an inconvenience for someone who is still credit active and needs lenders and creditors to have frequent access to his or her credit report.
However, a security freeze can be helpful for people who have been a victim of identity theft or are concerned about the potential for identity theft. A security freeze takes you “off the grid,” so to speak. It’s the securest way to protect your credit outside of a credit-monitoring product, but a fraud alert is probably a better first step for a victim of identity theft.
FAQ: How do I place a security freeze on my Equifax credit file?
The easiest and fastest way to place a security freeze on your Equifax credit file is online at Equifax.com. You may also request a freeze by phone or mail.
A security freeze requested with Equifax will freeze only your Equifax credit file. You’ll need to contact TransUnion or Experian directly to freeze those files.
FAQ: I need to apply for new credit. How do I remove a security freeze?
The easiest and fastest way to remove a security freeze on your Equifax credit file is online at Equifax.com.
You will need to contact the other credit-reporting agencies separately to remove a security freeze with them.
Remember, the point of a security freeze is to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your credit report. A security freeze may hinder your ability to immediately obtain credit to make major purchases.
If you are credit active and apply for credit on a regular basis, you need to be especially mindful of planning ahead when you have a security freeze on your Equifax file. Be sure to contact us in advance to request a temporary lift of the security freeze.
Depending on the law in your state, it may take up to three business days to process your request to temporarily lift the security freeze. We want to protect your credit report and make sure it’s really you requesting the removal of the security freeze. Equifax provides a confirmation number to its security freeze customers, and the other credit-reporting agencies offer similar security. If you’ve lost the confirmation number, it may take longer to verify your identity and remove the security freeze.
FAQ: Who is exempt from the security freeze?
- Equifax Security Freeze Teams
- Authorized users you have informed us about and for whom you requested a temporarily lift of the security freeze-for example, if you are looking for a car loan and want your lender to have access to your credit report
- Companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of these companies
- State or local agencies, including law enforcement, child support agencies, trial courts pursuant to a warrant or subpoena
- Credit-monitoring companies
- Companies that sell credit reports to consumers
- Federal government agencies as permitted under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
FAQ: What are the security freeze fees in my state?
You may be charged a fee for different actions involving security freezes. These fees can vary by action, and whether or not you are a documented identity theft victim. Activities include
- Security freeze placement
- Date range lift
- Specific party lift
- Permanent removal
- Replacement PIN
Security freeze fees can also differ by state. Visit Equifax.com for a list of the various fees for each state.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.