What is a “security freeze” on my credit report?

A security freeze prevents prospective creditors from accessing your credit file.

Creditors typically won’t offer you credit if they can’t access your credit reporting file, so a freeze prevents you or others from opening accounts in your name. Security freezes can be useful in preventing an identity thief from opening a new credit account in your name.

Only a limited number of entities can see your file while a freeze is in place, including:

  • Creditors of accounts you currently hold
  • Certain government entities like child support agencies
  • Companies that you’ve hired to monitor your credit file to prevent fraud

Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have laws that govern the procedures and requirements for security freezes and how much you can pay for them. For the remaining states (Alabama, Michigan, and Missouri), the nationwide credit reporting companies have voluntarily given residents the opportunity to place freezes. Freezes are generally free for victims of identity theft, but in some states others may be charged a fee.

Tip: Check the Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion websites to see how much they charge. To place a freeze, you must contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies individually.

Tip: If you have a problem with credit reporting, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB online.

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