What’s the Difference Between Freezing and Locking My Credit?

What's the Difference Between Freezing and Locking My Credit? article image.

After a data breach or security incident, we get lots of questions about the options for protecting your credit and identity—and the differences between them.

In particular, there's confusion on the difference between "freezing" your credit—at Experian we call it a security freeze—and "locking" your credit.

Both freezing and locking limit lenders from accessing your credit file, and help protect against identity theft. If your credit report is locked or frozen, most organizations requesting it will be limited from doing so—including potential or current employers seeking information for background checks and security clearances.

If your data has been accessed without your knowledge or permission in a data breach, it's important that you monitor your credit report so that an identity thief does not open new credit accounts in your name.

However, there are important differences between these two methods.

Experian CreditLock:

  • CreditLock is a benefit offered with Experian's CreditWorksSM Premium and IdentityWorksSM products.
  • It's convenient. You can lock or unlock your report in real time with no waiting period.
  • You'll get attempted inquiry alerts when your file is locked and someone tries to access it.
  • And you can get your Experian credit report and FICO® Score , along with all the other benefits of Experian membership, such as Dark Web monitoring to protect your identity.

Security Freeze:

  • Security freezes need to be initiated at each of the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Security freezes are free.
  • When you create an Experian membership account, you can log in and toggle on or off a credit freeze for your Experian credit report in near real time. You can also schedule a thaw—a future unfreezing—through your account when you plan to apply for credit.
  • If you prefer to contact the credit bureaus by phone or mail to place a security freeze, you can do so by using the contact information below.

Links to Security Freeze resources:

ExperianEquifaxTransUnion
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
1 888 397 3742
Experian Credit Freeze Center
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA, 30374
1 800 685 1111
Equifax Credit Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA, 19016
1 888 909 8872
TransUnion Credit Freeze

For many people, carefully monitoring their credit report and account statements for any unauthorized activity is enough. For others, with data breaches being such a regular occurrence, there's tremendous value and peace of mind with an extra level of identity and credit protection with locking or freezing your credit file.

Now that you have the facts, you can determine if one of these options is best for you.

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Of course, you can get more detailed information about how to monitor, protect and manage your credit at experian.com/education.

The purpose of this question submission tool is to provide general education on credit reporting. The Ask Experian team cannot respond to each question individually. However, if your question is of interest to a wide audience of consumers, the Experian team may include it in a future post and may also share responses in its social media outreach. If you have a question, others likely have the same question, too. By sharing your questions and our answers, we can help others as well.

Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask Experian. To dispute information in your personal credit report, simply follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report includes appropriate contact information including a website address, toll-free telephone number and mailing address.

To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through April 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.