Having issues unfreezing your credit?
These tips can help save time and avoid frustration
If you were affected by the 2017 Equifax data breach, you may have filed a claim for a piece of the settlement. The credit-reporting company had agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle investigations related to a massive security incident that exposed the personal information of more than 147 million Americans. Equifax then reversed course, telling customers it couldn’t pay the full amount to those who filed the claim and suggested that people instead file for free credit monitoring.
Due to the breach, cyber security experts recommended that people freeze their credit to prevent fraudsters from using their personal information to commit identity theft. A credit freeze also makes it impossible for lenders and other creditors to access your credit reports until you have the reporting company unfreeze it. That’s not always the easiest thing to do, however, as one of our clients found out when trying to make his credit report accessible to a lender when buying a vehicle.
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) recommends that if you are looking for a temporary lift, find out which bureau the business will contact and save time by just unfreezing at that bureau. Each credit bureau provides a pin — keep it in a safe place for future reference.
The FTC also states that “if the request is made online or by phone, a credit bureau must lift the freeze within one hour. If the request is made by mail, then the bureau must life the freeze no later than three business days after getting your request.”
How to unfreeze credit with Equifax
You can lift a security freeze on your Equifax credit report online by creating a “ myEquifax ” account. A PIN is no longer needed for online freezing or unfreezing. Equifax allows you to unfreeze your credit temporarily for a specific creditor or for a specified period, from one day to one year. You can also permanently unfreeze credit, which is not recommended. You will need a PIN if you choose to lift or reinstate a freeze by phone or mail.
Contact info: Equifax ; Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348; 800-349-9960.
How to unfreeze credit with Experian
Experian requires a PIN to unfreeze your credit. You can request that a freeze be lifted for a specific time; there’s no maximum. The online form warns, however, that you can’t change the date range for the freeze lift once you’ve submitted it. Experian also offers a single-use PIN that can help ensure your information is seen only by a creditor you authorize, so it isn’t exposed needlessly. Experian gives you the PIN, and you give it to the entity checking your credit.
Contact info: Experian ; Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013; 888-397-3742.
How to unfreeze credit with TransUnion
For online freeze lifts, you may need to sign up for a new TransUnion account with a username and password. You no longer need a PIN. You can lift the freeze for one to 30 days, beginning on a start date you pick. You can lift the freeze for a time or for certain creditors for whom you can create an access code to be used during a limited time. This differs from Experian’s single-use code because it can give multiple creditors access to your file during the time window.
Contact info: TransUnion ; TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016, 888-909-8872.
What are your choices for unfreezing credit?
You can temporarily lift a credit freeze in two ways:
- Lift a freeze for a certain number of days. You might do this if you’re shopping for a mortgage or car loan or applying for a credit card.
- Allow access to a specific creditor.
If you are applying for a loan, you may be able to ask the lender which credit bureau will be used and unfreeze only that one. Source: Nerd Wallet
Permanently lifting a credit freeze is also an option, but Versant doesn’t recommend giving up the protections a freeze gives you. Temporarily lifting a freeze occasionally is much less trouble than unwinding the effects of identity theft.
Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are for general information only. Neither Versant Capital Management, Inc. (VCM) nor any of its affiliates or employees makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, regulatory compliance, or usefulness of any information, tools, resources or process described, or represents that its use would fully protect against cybersecurity incidents, including but not limited to system breaches, compromise of firm security and/or improper access to confidential information. The article contains links to content that is available on third-party websites. Please note that VCM does not endorse these sites or the products and services you might find there .