Free Security Freeze
What Is a Security Freeze?
A “security freeze” blocks access to your credit unless you have given your permission. This can prevent an identity thief from opening a new account or getting credit in your name. All consumers can get a free security freeze online, by phone or by mail. A security freeze, also known as a credit or a file freeze, can be lifted (or “thawed”) temporarily when you are applying for credit, or removed permanently. Parents and guardians can also shield their children’s credit report with a special Protected Consumer security freeze. These freezes can also be used to safeguard incapacitated adults.
How a Security Freeze Works
- Once you’ve placed a security freeze on your credit, a creditor who asks to see your file will see a message that your file is frozen. The creditor will not see your credit score, and may treat your application as incomplete but not rejected.
- Government agencies collecting child support payments or taxes and your existing creditors or collection agencies acting on their behalf can continue to access your credit despite the freeze.
- Other creditors may also use your information to offer you pre-approved credit. You can stop most credit offers by calling (888) 5-OPT-OUT or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.
- You will still be able to get a free copy of your credit report annually from each credit bureau.
Freeze Your Credit for Free
Placing a security freeze on your credit reports can block an identity thief from opening a new account or getting credit in your name. North Carolina residents can set up and manage security freezes free of charge. Credit bureaus must comply with online or telephonic requests for a security freeze within one business day of receiving them. The credit bureaus must comply with requests made by mail within 3 business days of receiving them.
How to Get Free Security Freezes Online
To establish your security freezes, you will need to contact each of the three credit bureaus online:
- Equifax – Online Form
- Experian – Online Form
- TransUnion – Online Form
(Note: the links above will take you to the websites for the three credit bureaus. These sites are separate from www.ncdoj.gov.)
Be prepared to provide detailed information about yourself, including:
- Your Full Name
- Your Address
- Your Date of Birth
- Your Social Security Number
(Note: The credit bureaus already have this information in their files. You will be providing it to verify your identity.)
You can establish and manage a security freeze by mail or phone, as well as online.
Free Security Freezes by Mail
Credit bureaus must comply with your written request for a security freeze within three business days after they receive it. To request a security freeze by mail, send a letter to each of the three credit bureaus listed below.
Your letter should include:
- Your full name including middle initial and any suffix (such as Jr.)
- Your home addresses for the last five years
- Your Social Security number and date of birth
- Two proofs of residence (examples: a copy of your driver’s license, utility bill, insurance statement, bank statement)
- Police or DMV report if you’re a victim of identity theft
Note: The credit bureaus already have your name and other personal information in their files. You will be providing it to verify your identity.
Free Security Freezes by Phone
Credit bureaus must comply with your request by phone for a security freeze within one business day. To place a freeze by phone, call each of the three credit bureaus. Be prepared to supply the information listed above including your driver’s license number and Social Security Number.
Contact the Credit Bureaus to Request a Security Freeze
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Keep Your PINs or Passwords Safe
When you freeze your credit, the company will send you confirmation of the placement of the freeze along with information on how to remove the freeze, including any authentication information you will need, such as a PIN (Personal Identification Number) or password. The information should be sent to you no later than five business days after placing the freeze. Make sure to keep this authentication information in a safe place.
Protected Consumer Security Freezes
You can freeze the credit reports of children and incapacitated adults.
Lifting or Removing Your Freeze
You can request that a freeze be lifted for a specified period of time or removed by making the request to the credit bureaus and providing proper identification. The credit bureaus must lift or remove a freeze one hour after receiving the request when the consumer makes the request by telephone or online. If the request is made by mail, the credit bureaus must lift or remove the freeze within 3 days after receiving such a request. Learn more about Lifting your Security Freeze.