Fraud alert or credit freeze – which is right for you?

Share This Page

Considering a fraud alert or credit freeze? In the aftermath of the Equifax data breach, many people are. You don’t need to be an identity theft victim to use them – but it’s helpful to consider your situation. If you’re not sure which is best for you, here are some things to think about.

What do fraud alerts and credit freezes do? With a fraud alert, businesses must try to verify your identity before extending new credit. Usually that means calling to check if you’re at a particular store attempting to take out new credit. With a credit freeze, no one – including you – can access your credit report to open new accounts. You’ll get a PIN number to use each time you want to freeze and unfreeze your account to apply for new credit.

How long do fraud alerts and credit freezes last? A fraud alert lasts for 90 days. You can renew it but you’ll need to remind yourself or it will expire automatically. Identity theft victims are entitled to an extended fraud alert, which last seven years. In almost all states, a credit freeze lasts until you temporarily lift or permanently remove it. In a few states, it expires after seven years.

How much do they cost? Fraud alerts are free. Credit freezes may involve fees, based on state law. In most states, they’re free for identity theft victims. For non-victims, they cost about $5 to $10 each time you freeze or unfreeze your account with each credit reporting agency.

How do I place a fraud alert or credit freeze? To place a fraud alert, contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, either by phone or online. The one you contact is required to notify the other two. If you’re an identity theft victim placing an extended fraud alert, you’ll also need to mail or upload your Identity Theft Report which you can create at To place a credit freeze, you must contact each of the three credit reporting agencies individually at their credit freeze portals.

How does this all add up? Credit freezes may be a strong tool but they may not be for everyone. Consider the cost and hassle factor. If you’re about to take out new credit (apply for a mortgage, car loan, student loan), then you’ll have to unfreeze and refreeze each time you want new credit. But if you won’t need new credit soon, then a credit freeze may be for you.

Still not sure? For more information, check out Place a Fraud Alert, Credit Freeze FAQs, and Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes.


Can't freeze at Equifax. They claim system is down.

Nothing at Equifax is working. Error messages on website regarding Freeze. No confirmation email for info entered for free one year protection.
there is supposedly a phone number to Freeze on the phone but the system is down. we are all in the same data breach boat apparently.

Same thing here! Been trying since Monday

This may be stupid question but how do you know if your security has been breached with Equifax? So far, our credit info is good.

This FTC blog has information: The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do

call ur bank & they will give u the # to equifax, or go to

I did credit freezes on all 4 credit report companies today by phone with no issues at all.

I tried to freeze credit with Equifax over the phone last evening, 9/17/17. They told me they don't do that over the phone, they were just hired to answer questions. I was told I had to do this on line. I told them I'm not comfortable doing that since by ordering a free credit report I confirmed what I suspected, both my phone number and email address are now listed on the dark web. They said, sorry can't help, maybe you should go to So I'm here but I don't see how this helps freeze my credit.

I was able to put in my personal information and submit. This took me to the screen that said I wanted to freeze my account. I clicked submit and this message came up: "We are currently unable to service your request. Please try again later. I tried again and it asked if I wanted to temporarily or permanently unfreeze my account and asked for the 10 digit pin. I never had a screen that confirmed the freeze and didn't get the 10 digit pin. Does anyone have the phone number to call for the pin? It appears on the last page when you have confirmed your freeze. It came up on my spouses confirmation, but I didn't write it down. I called Equifax help line and they do not have any phone numbers for customer service, pin number help, and the online chat is down. The representative gave me a fax number which is constantly busy and an address in Atlanta. Now I can't remove the freeze.Hopefully someone will get confirmation and I can get the pin phone number. Any help is appreciated.

I have the same issue. It said unable to freeze, never gave me a Pin, when I tried again it asked if I wanted to unfreeze, but I don't have a PIN.

I have the same issue. Did you solve this? if so how. Thanks.

what web link did you use to do the freeze?

To place a credit freeze, you must contact each of the three credit reporting agencies individually at their credit freeze portals.

Contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies:

Just learned of a 4th credit bureau, "Innovis." Do I need to freeze my credit there also?

Yes. I did a credit freeze with all 3 bureau's plus Innovis just to be safe.

The freeze option is working today on Equifax. I finally was able to get it to work and get a Pin number.

If you are over 65, is there a cost to freeze your credit

There might be a fee to freeze your credit, based on your state law. Usually, an identity theft victim can get a credit freeze for free. 

If you aren't an identity theft victim, it usually costs about $5 to $10 each time you freeze or unfreeze your account with each credit reporting company. There are three major credit reporting companies.

Please check again. In looking at TransUnion credit freeze, seniors ARE eligible for free -- in some states. Same thing with Experian. I clicked on Illinois, for example, and it says it's free for seniors. I didn't bother checking Equifax; I figured their whole system is probably down now. So, original personal asking question: please check as it appears seniors ARE eligible for credit freezes depending on the state / credit reporting agency.

No, there is no cost, after 65.

That might be true in your state, but not in every state. The cost to set and lift a freeze varies state-to-state.

I would like to know where was the FTC when the IRS was hacked 2 years ago? Sweeping that under the carpet?

Lisa, You noted ”In almost all states, a credit freeze lasts until you temporarily lift or permanently remove it. In a few states, it expires after seven years." Re:the last sentence -- which states expire after 7 yrs ? (Please provide link(s) -- I did not know a freeze would thaw out.)

I want to freeze my credit report until this mess gets straightened out. How can I start it?

The FTC article about Credit Freezes explains how to place a freeze on your credit report and includes contact information for the credit reporting companies.

Do I need to freeze both my credit and my wife's to make sure we are protected or is just freezing mine enough?

You and your spouse might have joint accounts for credit cards or your mortgage, but you have individual social security numbers, birthdays, names, identities and credit reports.


You each have a personal credit report in your name that includes information about where you have lived, accounts you have had, how you have paid your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy.

If a thief gets your personal information, or your spouse's, and you don't have a freeze on the credit report, the thief could open new accounts in that name. Read more about Credit Freezes.

Why doesn't the FTC immediately tell Equifax that it must refund any state mandated fees on credit freezes in connection with the data breech EQUIFAX negligently inflicted on almost all US citizens?

Equifax is offering free freezes.. But you have to freeze the other two, also. Always keen to make a buck, Experian and TransUnion aren't waiving their fees. In fact, TransUnion even changed their page around to pressure people into using their paid Trusting service, rather than being decent human beings and restoring any faith in the monitoring agencies. Anyhow, it'll run you ten bucks each, unless you want to waste time doing it through the mail and jumping through the hoops, which most people just won't risk. The fraud alert is free and if you do it with one, they communicate it to the others. I did both the alert and the freeze, myself.

I totally agree! The FTC or government, or someone. Why should we all have to go through this, never mind what potentially will come up in the many years to come, but all 3 credit reporting agencies should have any fees for freezes paid for by Equifax - not us.

I can't get into any of the sites to place a fraud alert; can I do it by mail?

How do I know if I was affected in this breach?

You can go to Equifax’s website: That link takes you away from the FTC site. is not controlled by the FTC.

  • When you get to that site, click on the “Potential Impact” tab. Type your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re using a secure computer and an encrypted network connection whey you type that.  The site should tell you if you have been affected by the breach.

This was a wonderful tip, very effective and reassuring. Eqfx is making a credit surveillance service available after user follows prompts. Not sure if it is a free service. Thanks.

Totally confused. Been Equifax member for years. What can our government do to solve this problem?

I have tried to put a freeze on my credit reports but either the phone line is busy or if using my computer, a page comes up saying its not longer working. This is really upsetting. How can I protect myself when I can not get through to the people that are suppose to help me. Equifax is now saying people have to write them a letter .That isn't a quick way to get in touch. I don't know what to do.

This is Equifax's mess up, you'd think they would automatically put a fraud alert on all the accounts that were involved and just let us know instead of us having to do all the leg work!....esp since we can't get in due to high call volume!!!

haha ya right. Equifax could not care less about your credit, your life or your well being. The credit agencies are complete garbage and need to be disbanded.

You might want to warn folks that it can be very, very difficult to remove a credit freeze. A relative of mine had a hard time with getting a credit freeze removed and he said he had not asked for a credit freeze. It was something done to him rather than done for him.

I have a credit freeze and it is quite easy to use. It is a pain that I have to pay every time I need it lifted. Like I re-financed the house and had to lift the freeze and was charged $10 each. Now, I can understand if someone else puts a freeze on your account. You need a password code to in-freeze.

I placed a fraud alert and a credit freeze with Equifax,fraud alerts with the other reporting agencies. Is this a practical temporary solution considering the recent Equifax hack?

Thank you

Since it is not my fault that your company has been breeched, why would you charge me to freeze my account? I would like to freeze my account but have been unsuccessful on the computer. What I need is a form sent to me but it wouldn't work either.

i want to put a credit freeze on all 3 credit bureaus.

After using a credit freeze, must I lift it in order to get a credit report?

When you place a credit freeze, you can still get your free annual credit report. You don't have to lift the freeze to get your report yourself.

And, you can still open a new account, apply for a job, rent an apartment, or buy insurance. But, before you do those things, you need to lift the freeze temporarily. You can lift the freeze for a specific time or so that a for a specific business like a landlord or employer can get your report.

Read the FTC Credit Freeze article for more.

Thank you so much for your help!

Thanks federal Trade Comission!

The Equifax number doesn't work. It's nearly impossible to get any of this done.

If Equifax was breached & the only way to find out " if" my personal, sensitive info was one if the millions the hackers got personal info from Equifax. Why the heck would ANYONE go to the Equifax menu & enter in the last 6, not 4 but 6 digits of your SS # with the Credit Bureau that left loop wholes that allowed Hackers to breach it? Is it just me that thunjs this is a " BRIGHT IDEA????" Is there another way to check it out?


Leave a Comment

Comment Policy