A security freeze, also known as a credit report freeze, file freeze or credit report lockdown, is designed to prevent a credit reporting company (the Experian bureau, Equifax or TransUnion) from releasing credit report information without a consumer’s consent.
However, you should be aware that using a security freeze to take control over who is allowed access to the personal and financial information in your file may delay, interfere with or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application you make regarding a new loan, credit, mortgage, insurance, government services or payments, rental housing, employment, investment, license, cellular telephone, utilities, digital signature, Internet credit card transaction or other services, including an extension of credit at point of sale.
When you place a security freeze on your file, you will be provided a personal identification number or password to use if you choose to remove the security freeze from your file or authorize the temporary release of your credit report for a specific person or period after the security freeze is in place. To provide that authorization, you must contact the reporting agency and provide all the following:
- Sufficient identification to verify your identity.
- Your personal identification number or password provided by the credit reporting company.
- A statement that you choose to remove the security freeze from your file or that you authorize the reporting agency to temporarily release your consumer report. If you authorize the temporary release of your consumer report, you must name the person who is to receive your consumer report or the period for which your consumer report must be available.
A security freeze generally does not apply to circumstances in which you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or affiliates for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control or similar activities.
If you are actively seeking credit, you should understand that the procedures involved in lifting a security freeze may slow your own applications for credit. You should plan ahead and lift a freeze, either completely if you are shopping around, or specifically for a certain creditor, a few days before actually applying for new credit.