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 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

  • 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 Freeze

  • Security freezes need to be initiated and managed 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.
  • The PIN codes for Experian, Equifax and TransUnion will all be different, and you will need to go to the Web sites for each company to freeze or unfreeze your credit report.

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.

Have more questions about credit? Please, #AskSusie! Submit your questions (using the #AskSusie hashtag) through Facebook or Twitter, or email me directly at AskSusie@experian.com.

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.