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 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:
|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.
- 7 Things You Need to Know Before Freezing Your Credit
- What Is the Difference Between a Credit Freeze and a Fraud Alert?
- Credit Freeze FAQs
- How to Freeze Your Credit File for Free
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.
This article was originally published on April 30, 2018, and has been updated.