A credit freeze is a service that credit-reporting agencies are required to provide by law in some States. California was the first state to require such service of credit reporting agencies. This service allows consumers to stop the credit reporting agencies from sharing their credit information with third parties without their written consent.
Typically, you can place a freeze on your credit with any of the credit reporting agencies to stop the agency from sharing your credit file with third parties without your authorization. An exception is granted when you contact the credit reporting agencies to temporarily lift the security freeze for companies that you intend to do business with, or, those entities which are exempt by law. Your initial freeze request may take a few business days to be processed, activated and confirmed by the agencies, specially if your request is in mailed. This service is neither free nor available in all States. Some states are either considering or have adopted credit freeze laws which require credit reporting agencies to provide the service with or without a fee; either to activate or remove a security freeze.
A freeze will remain on your credit file until you contact the agency and request to lift the freeze. As mentioned, you may temporarily lift a security freeze for a period of time or for certain credit grantors by contacting the credit reporting agency, but that may take a few business days and you may not be able to do that during non-business hours, weekends, or holidays. The initial identification number provided to you by the agencies may be required to lift a freeze, therefore for a speedy and authorized lift of the freeze, make sure you keep that number in a safe location only known to you. A report freeze is not for every one. Those who rarely apply for credit can greatly benefit from this service to prevent credit identity theft without the additional hassle of unfreezing their credit report each time they want to apply for a new credit line or account changes. However, if you apply for credit on a regular basis, you need to reconsider placing such security freeze on your file or become extremely organized and plan ahead to allow sufficient time for temporary lifting of the credit freeze before you apply for credit.
If you request a copy of your own credit report or if a service provider to which you have subscribed to monitor and/or provide you with a copy of your credit report on a periodic basis makes a request for a copy of your credit report, the credit reporting agencies are required to process that request even if a freeze is placed on your credit report.
As mentioned, the costs and methods for placing and lifting permanent or temporary freeze on your credit reports vary from State to State in the United States.
Click the link below to see the list of credit freeze requirements by State provided by Equifax:
Equifax - 1-800-685-1111 Equifax Security Freeze P.O. Box 105788 Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian - 1-888-397-3742 Experian Security Freeze P. O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion - 1-888-909-8872 Trans Union Security FreezeP. O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834-6790