Debt Consolidation

How to Freeze Your Equifax Credit Report

The theft of your personal information is a real threat in our modern world. In 2018 alone, there were 14.4 million victims of fraud, according to research-based financial advisory firm Javelin Strategy & Research.

You can’t always prevent thieves from stealing your personal information — yet, you may be able to limit the damage fraudsters can do with your stolen data. A credit freeze is one of the best ways to tie an identity thief’s hands. Thankfully, in September 2018, federal law made it possible to freeze your credit reports free of charge.

How to freeze your credit with Equifax

Online

The fastest way to freeze your credit report with Equifax is online. To start the process, you need to create a myEquifax account.

You’ll provide Equifax with certain information, such as your:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Phone number
  • Address

Equifax may send you text messages to verify your identity. You may also need to answer identity verification questions, based on information from your Equifax credit report.

Once you successfully create a myEquifax account, you’ll be given the option to freeze your Equifax credit report. Later, you can use the same account to check the status of your Equifax credit freeze as well.

Phone

You may also freeze your credit report via phone. Dial 888-298-0045 to begin the process.

A phone call may be a good option for people who are uncomfortable using technology or those who might want to ask questions first. Additionally, if you experience technical problems when you try to freeze your Equifax report online, a phone call may help you resolve the issue.

Here’s what you can expect when you call Equifax to freeze your credit report.

  • Be prepared to potentially sit on hold as you wait to speak with an Equifax representative, depending upon the call volume.
  • You will need to verify your identity. To do so, you can either receive a one-time PIN number via text or answer identity verification questions based on your Equifax report.

Mail

The third way you can freeze your Equifax credit report is to make the request via mail. Follow these steps to freeze your report by mail:

  1. Download the Equifax Freeze Request Form.
  2. Fill out the form with your personal information. Provide your name, current and former addresses, phone numbers, Social Security number, and date of birth.
  3. Include copies of documents to verify both your identity and address. Accepted documents are listed on the freeze request form. These include your Social Security card, pay stub (with Social Security number), driver’s license or utility bill (with current address), etc.
  4. Mail the completed form and documents to the address below.
    Equifax Information Services LLC
    P.O. Box 105788
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5788

How do I freeze the credit report of a minor or incapacitated adult?

If you’re worried about protecting the credit reports of minors or incapacitated adults in your care, you may want to consider placing a credit freeze on their behalf. Federal law allows you to place a security freeze on these credit reports and to do so free of charge.

To freeze the Equifax report of a minor (16 years old or younger) or incapacitated adult (an example of a person under guardianship), follow these steps.

Minors

  • Download the Equifax Minor Freeze Request form.
  • Fill out the form with your information as parent, guardian or representative, along with the minor’s information.
  • Include proof of your identity (e.g., copy of driver’s license, Social Security card, birth certificate, etc.).
  • Provide proof that you’re the parent, guardian or representative of the minor listed on the form (e.g., copy of minor’s birth certificate, a court order, valid power of attorney, etc.).
  • Include a copy of documents. In particular, the minor’s Social Security card and birth certificate are both required as proof of identity.
  • Mail the completed form and documents to the following address:
    Equifax Information Services LLC
    P.O. Box 105788
    Atlanta, GA 30378

Incapacitated adults

  • Download the Equifax Incapacitated Adult Freeze Request form.
  • Fill out the form with your information as authorized representative and the information of the person you’re representing.
  • Include proof of your identity (e.g., copy of driver’s license, Social Security card, birth certificate, etc.).
  • Show proof that you’re the authorized representative (e.g., copy of a court order, valid power of attorney, etc.).
  • Include a copy of documents for the incapaciated adult you represent. Their Social Security card and birth certificate are both considered requirements.
  • Mail the form and documents to the following address.
    Equifax Information Services LLC
    P.O. Box 105788
    Atlanta, GA 30378

How to unfreeze your credit with Equifax

A freeze is one of the best ways to protect your credit report from unauthorized access. However, a freeze doesn’t only stop unauthorized credit access. It locks nearly everyone out of your credit report (with a few exceptions), even if you want to apply for a legitimate financing offer or service.

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to unfreeze your credit when you wish to apply for something new. The Federal Trade Commission requires the credit bureaus to lift a credit freeze within one hour when you make the request online or via phone.

You can use two methods to restore access to your Equifax credit report. You can remove the freeze altogether or you can schedule a temporary lift.

Lifting a credit freeze temporarily

If you plan to apply for new credit, like a loan or credit card, you may only want to lift the security freeze from your Equifax report for a short period of time. Equifax allows you to schedule a date range to temporarily pause your credit freeze in your myEquifax account.

If you prefer, you can lift a credit freeze via phone instead.

  • Automated Line: (800) 349-9960
  • Customer Care: (888) 298-0045

Once the date range you specify expires, the security freeze will automatically be re-added to your Equifax report.

Removing a credit freeze

An Equifax security freeze can also be removed from your credit report altogether. You can permanently remove a freeze via your myEquifax account any time. (You can always re-freeze your report later if you change your mind.)

If you prefer to make your request over the phone, you have the option to do so. Simply use one of the phone numbers listed above.

How a freeze protects your credit

A credit report freeze has its pros and cons. For one, it takes your credit report out of circulation. That means lenders and others can’t pull your credit reports without your permission. Unless you proactively remove a security freeze in advance, your credit information will be inaccessible.

Here’s an example of how a freeze can protect you: Imagine someone steals your information and applies for a fraudulent account in your name. If your credit is frozen, any lenders they apply with won’t be able to access your credit information. The phony application will be denied and you’ll avoid a potential mess.

What a credit freeze doesn’t do

A credit report freeze can help stop fraudsters from opening unauthorized accounts in your name. But a credit freeze doesn’t prevent all forms of identity theft, nor does it lock everyone out of your credit file.

  • It won’t protect current accounts, such as open credit lines, from unauthorized charges or other fraud.
  • Your credit score won’t be affected when you freeze your credit report.
  • You may still receive pre-screened offers for credit, unless you opt out at OptOutPrescreen.com.
  • You can still review your credit report while it’s frozen.
  • Companies you do business with currently may still access your credit reports for account maintenance check ups. This includes current credit card companies.

How to freeze your credit with the other credit bureaus

You’ll need to place a separate credit freeze with each credit bureau individually. Below you’ll find instructions on how to contact Experian and TransUnion to make your request.

Experian

You can request a free credit freeze from Experian using any of the three following methods.

  • Online using this form.
  • By phone by calling 888-397-3742
  • By mailing Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013. Written requests require the following information:
    • Your full name
    • SSN
    • Addresses for the past two years
    • Date of birth
    • A copy of a government-issued ID
    • A copy of a utility bill or a bank or insurance statement

TransUnion

You can freeze your credit report with TransUnion, free of charge, using any of the following four methods.

  • Online from this page.
  • Using the mobile app for Apple and Android devices
  • By phone at 888-909-8872
  • By mailing TransUnion, P.O. Box 160 Woodlyn, PA 19094. You’ll provide the following information: your full name, address and SSN.

Bottom line

A credit freeze is a simple and effective way to protect yourself from fraudulent activity. However, it won’t safeguard you from all forms of fraud, and your active accounts may still be vulnerable. You can better protect them by requesting your creditors and other companies ask a security question before providing any services.

But a credit freeze isn’t your only option for protecting your credit. You can also use credit monitoring to keep tabs on changes in your credit scores, which can be indicative of unwanted activity.

 

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