What is a security freeze?
A security or credit freeze is a way to prevent the credit bureaus from sharing your credit data to new creditors without your explicit consent.
A security freeze is one of the ways to help prevent a thief from opening a new credit account, because creditors require a review of your credit report before they can approve a new account (e.g. credit card, mortgage loan, or auto loan) in your name. If the creditor can’t review the report, no new account will be opened.
When you use a security freeze to lock your credit report, it can make the process of shopping for a loan or a credit card difficult. If you’re thinking of opening a new loan soon, a security freeze may not be for you.
Unless you are already a victim of identity theft, the credit bureaus generally charge a fee to freeze or unfreeze your credit report. These fees may vary by state, but range anywhere from $3 to $20 per transaction. Note that each of the three credit bureaus have their own process for locking and unlocking credit reports. As a result, you have to pay this fee to each of the bureaus every time you place or remove a freeze. These fees can add up quickly.
While a security freeze helps prevent new account openings, it cannot prevent all identity theft. Even with a security freeze you’re still susceptible to take over of existing accounts, tax fraud, healthcare fraud, medical identity theft, and criminal identity theft to name a few.
The process to place a security freeze varies by bureau. You will need to individually place a credit freeze at each of the three bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. There are three ways to place a freeze, writing, phone, or online.
The details by bureau are listed below:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, Georgia 30348
By phone call the automated line at 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents please call 1-800-349-9960)
Online filing: https://www.freeze.equifax.com
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Online filing: https://www.experian.com/consumer/cac/InvalidateSession.do?code=FREEZE
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
By phone: 1-888-909-8872
Online filing: https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp
Placing a security freeze won’t have any impact on your Identity Guard credit monitoring service. In fact, placing a security freeze is an additional step you can take to help protect your identity. But, it’s important to remember that while a security freeze helps prevent new account openings, it cannot prevent all identity theft. Even with a security freeze you’re still susceptible to take over of existing accounts. But, the good news is existing account takeovers is one of the many things that Identity Guard monitors for, on your behalf, and we’ll notify you if we detect suspicious activity.