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How to obtain a security freeze

If a thief has stolen your personal information, they usually try to open new credit accounts or run up charges on existing accounts. When the bills aren't paid, you are the one holding the delinquent account, and that will negatively affect your credit report.

Placing a security freeze on your credit file is one deterrent against identity theft.

All Oregonians can place a security freeze on their credit file maintained by the three major national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Once activated, someone who has fraudulently obtained your personal identifying information cannot open new accounts or borrow money. The freeze will also prevent lenders and others from gaining access to your credit report for review.

Before you freeze

Keep in mind that a security freeze will not prevent an identity thief from misusing existing credit cards and credit accounts. Click here for guidance if your credit cards have been stolen.

Before you decide to apply an optional freeze to your credit files, will you need to buy anything that would require a look at your credit history? For example, if you plan to get new mobile phone service, the credit company will need to access your credit files to finalize the sale.

How to Obtain a Security Freeze
  • Depending on the credit reporting agency, you can request a freeze online, by phone, or by mail. If you request by mail, we have provided letters for you to use in a convenient Word fillable format. If you do not have Word, the letters are also available in a PDF version for you to print and fill out by hand.
  • Note: If using the fillable version, fill out and print all three letters at the same time.

  • Allow five business days upon receipt of your request for the credit reporting agencies to place a security freeze on your credit file.


  • Expect a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN) in a confirmation letter from each of the credit reporting agencies, which, by law, must be sent within 10 days of placing the security freeze.

Keep all documents relating to placing your security freeze. If you misplace or lose your assigned personal identification number (PIN), the credit reporting agencies can charge up to $10 to reissue or reassign a new PIN.

TransUnion
Online:
http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/credit-freezes.page
By phone:
1-800-680-7289 (Press 3 then follow prompts)
By Mail:
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
Equifax
Online:
https://www.freeze.equifax.com
By Phone:
1-888- 298-0045 between the hours of 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the consumer's time zone.
By Mail:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian
Online:
www.experian.com/freeze
By Phone:
1-888-EXPERIAN (Press 2 then follow prompts for security freeze placements)
By Mail:
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Security Freezes for Children

A parent or legal guardian can protect their children from unauthorized use of their credit by placing a freeze on their credit file. Follow these steps:

  1. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion (see below).
  2. Follow the instructions by each agency. Note that you will need to provide them with personal information including Social Security numbers and your child's birth certificate including Social Security number. If you are a guardian of a minor, you must submit a copy of the court document naming you as the guardian.
  3. Submit a $10 fee to each agency.

Once the freeze is placed, it cannot be temporarily lifted like it can for an adult. When the child reaches 18 years of age, they can decide if they want to permanently lift it.

Note that a business or lender cannot deny extending credit based on the freeze, however the frozen credit file can be used for certain background checks.

Equifax

https://help.equifax.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/779/noIntercept/1/kw/freeze%20for%20minor%20child

Experian

www.experian.com/freeze
Click "Add a Security Freeze", then click "Place a Security Freeze on Minor's Credit File"

TransUnion

http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/ProtectedConsumers.page

Cost

If you are victim of identity theft or have reported the theft of your personal information to a law enforcement agency, there is no fee. To do this, you must submit a valid copy of a police incident report or a copy of a form filed with the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant. Because you need to submit documents, you only have the option of obtaining a freeze by mail.

Even if you are not a victim of identity theft, you can still place a security freeze, but you will need to pay a $10 fee to each credit reporting agency.

Important note: One security freeze does not cover everyone in a household. Spouses or partners must freeze their credit files separately.

Access to Your File under a Freeze

Even if you have a security freeze, some government agencies, law enforcement and courts, and private companies can still access your credit files under certain circumstances. These include companies you are doing business with, companies to which you owe money, and collection agencies.

"Thawing" the Freeze

Consumers who do place a security freeze on their credit report can temporarily or permanently remove the freeze or "thaw" their file to apply for new credit. Credit reporting agencies must lift a freeze within three business days after receiving the request.

  • Follow the procedures in the confirmation letter each credit reporting agency sent when you first placed your security freeze. Each agency will charge a fee of $10 to lift the freeze. (No fee will be charged if you are an identity theft victim or have reported the theft to law enforcement.)


  • Use the password or PIN to temporarily lift or permanently remove your security freeze.


  • Expect a credit reporting agency to remove or lift the security freeze within three business days of your request provided you submit proper identification, your password or PIN, and payment of any applicable fee.

Note: If you temporarily lift the freeze to apply for new credit, keep in mind that all merchants and lenders will have access to your account.

Security Freeze vs. Fraud Alert

A fraud alert is an initial, immediate alert that stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You can request an alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. Placing the alert means that your credit report will be flagged and creditors are required to call you before extending credit. However, unlike a security freeze, businesses can still check your credit report with a fraud alert in place. Potential creditors must either contact you or use what federal law refers to as “reasonable policies and procedures” to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. Thus, the steps potential creditors take to verify your identity may not always alert them that the applicant is not you.

A security freeze on your credit report is stronger than a fraud alert because it prevents anyone from accessing your credit file for any reason unless you instruct the credit reporting agencies to unfreeze your report.

For more information about placing a fraud alert, contact one of the three national credit reporting agencies listed below. You only need to contact one of the three to place a fraud alert.

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790