How to "Freeze" Your Credit Files (10 pages)

how to “freeze” your credit files

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CONSUMER INFORMATION SHEET 10

September 2012

How to “Freeze” Your Credit Files

If you live in California, you have the right to put a “security freeze” on your credit file.

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A

security freeze means that your file cannot be shared with potential creditors. A security freeze

can help prevent identity theft. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without first

checking a consumer's credit history. If your credit files are frozen, even someone who has your

name and Social Security number would probably not be able to get credit in your name.

A security freeze is free to identity theft victims who have a police report of identity theft.

If you are not an identity theft victim and you are under 65 years of age, it will cost you $10 to

place a freeze with each of the three credit bureaus. That’s a total of $30 to freeze your files. If

you are not an identity theft victim and you are 65 years of age or older, it will cost you $5 to

place a freeze with each of the three credit bureaus. That’s a total of $15 to freeze your files.

How do I place a security freeze?

To place a freeze, you must contact each of the three credit bureaus. You can place the freeze by

mail. See the sample letters at the end of this sheet for addresses and what information to include.

You may also be able to place the freeze by phone or online. Please visit www.equifax.com,

www.experian.com, and www.transunion.com for up-to-date options.

You must provide identifying information. If you are an identity theft victim, provide a copy of

your police report (or DMV investigative report) of identity theft. Otherwise, if you are under 65

years of age, provide payment of $10 to each of the credit bureaus; if you are 65 years of age or

older, provide payment of $5 to each of the credit bureaus.

Can I open new credit accounts if my files are frozen?

Yes. If you want to open a new credit account or get a new loan, you can lift the freeze on your

credit file. You can lift it for a period of time. Or you can lift it for a specific creditor. After you

contact the credit bureaus asking for the freeze, each credit bureau will send you a Personal

Identification Number (PIN). You will also get instructions on how to lift the freeze by using

your PIN. The credit bureaus must lift your freeze within three days.

For consumers under 65 years of age, the fee for lifting the freeze temporarily is $10 for a date-

range lift or for a lift for a specific creditor. For consumers 65 years of age or older, the fee for

either type of temporary lift is $5.

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