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Security Freeze - Protecting your Personal Information

If an identity thief has stolen your personal identifying information, he or she has access to your financial accounts. In mere hours, the thief can 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 would not be able to open new accounts or borrow money. The freeze also prevents 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, consider whether you intend to make a purchase that would require a look at your credit history. For example, if you plan to buy an item where you will need to obtain new credit, that 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

NEW - Effective September 13, 2013, a parent or legal guardian can create a protected record for their minor child through the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). The parent or legal guardian then can place a security freeze on this record. There is no fee to create the protect record; however, the existing $10 fee to freeze a credit file still applies($10 to each credit reporting agency). A freeze on a protective record cannot be temporarily lifted; at the point the child reaches the age of 18, the child can delete the protective record. A protective record cannot be used as the basis of a credit decision, but it can be used for certain background checks.

You must contact each credit reporting agency to create the protected record and place the freeze. At this time you can only request the protected record and security freeze by mailing the credit reporting agencies. Below are links to their sites with instructions.

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

An Oregon consumer wishing to place a credit freeze for an individual 16 years of age or younger should mail their request and required documentation to the following address. There is no fee for this service in Oregon regardless of whether the minor is a victim of identity theft or not.

TransUnion
PO Box 380
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Request must include sufficient proof of authority and sufficient proof of identification. Sufficient proof of authority includes at least one of the following:
court order; power of attorney; or written, notarized and signed description of authority. Sufficient proof of identification includes at least one of the following for both the individual placing the freeze and the person for whom the freeze is being placed: proof of Social Security number (i.e. SSN card); proof of name and address (driver's license, state of government issued, issued ID card, utility bill). Also, for minors only: copy of birth certificate.

Cost

If you are victim of identity theft or have reported the theft of your personal identifying 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 Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Complaint Form. 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 that 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