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 prevent potential lenders from accessing your credit file, and a preventative measure to protect against identity theft. If your credit report is locked or frozen, all organizations requesting it will be prevented from accessing it—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.
- CreditLock is a benefit offered by Experian’s CreditWorksSM and IdentityWorksSM products. Pricing details are here.
- It provides daily monitoring of your credit file, which means you will be alerted about any new activity, including new account openings.
- It’s convenient. You can lock or unlock your report in real time with no waiting period.
- 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 freezes need to be initiated at each of the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
- A PIN code is required every time you want to freeze or unfreeze your credit.
- There are sometimes fees to do this, which vary by state, but fees are waived for victims of identity theft.
- Some states have made freezing your credit report free, and other states are considering legislation that would eliminate fees to freeze or unfreeze. You can get more information regarding your state’s regulations on credit freezes.
- How you unfreeze your credit report depends on the process you followed to initially freeze your report. If you froze through report through each of the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, you will need your PIN number to unfreeze it, and there may be a fee to do so depending on the state regulations where you live.
Links to Security Freeze resources:
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.
Of course, you can get more detailed information about how to monitor, protect and manage your credit at experian.com/education.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.