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Free credit freezes from Equifax

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UPDATE:  As of September 21, 2018, the law says credit freezes are free for everyone, and alerts now last one year (not 90 days).  Read more here.

Many people have had very sensitive personal information exposed in the Equifax breach — Social Security numbers, account numbers, even drivers’ license numbers. Equifax is offering free credit freezes until June 30, 2018. The company also will refund fees to anyone who already paid for freezes since September 7, 2017, when it announced the breach. If you’re thinking of placing a freeze, read this first.

A freeze means that no one (including you) can access your credit file until you unfreeze it, using a PIN or passphrase. That makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

To be effective, you must place a freeze with all three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Transunion and Experian. That’s because when a thief tries to take out new credit, a business can pull your credit report from any of the three agencies. If you’ve only frozen your Equifax file and the business checks with Experian or Transunion, your Equifax freeze does you no good.

There’s also cost to consider. A freeze can cost you money every time you freeze and unfreeze your file. While Equifax will let you place or lift a freeze for free until June 30, 2018, TransUnion and Experian are not offering free freezes. That means that any time you need to get new credit, you’ll need to lift the freeze, then place it again, with each of the three agencies — at a cost of $5 to $10 per agency each time, depending on your state’s law.

But wait, you say, I heard that freezes are free for identity theft victims. So, will I get free freezes from the other two agencies too? No. An identity theft victim is someone whose information not only has been exposed, but also has been misused. If you’re a data breach victim, your information is at greater risk of misuse but unless that happens, you’re not an identity theft victim and not entitled to free freezes on that basis.

To learn more about credit freezes, read Credit Freeze FAQs and Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes. If you want a free credit freeze from Equifax you can call them at 800-349-9960 or visit them online at

If you’re looking for an alternative to a credit freeze, consider a fraud alert. Although a fraud alert won’t lock your credit like a freeze does, it will tell anyone who runs your credit that they should check with you before opening a new account. Fraud alerts are free but they end after 90 days, unless you remember to renew them. You may also want to sign up for Equifax’s free credit monitoring, which lets you know about changes to your credit file. But remember that the free credit monitoring doesn’t stop someone from opening accounts in your name. Also, it lasts only one year and the threat of identity theft relating to the breach is likely to last a lot longer than that.

Note: This post was updated on October 5, 2017 to reflect that Equifax extended the enrollment period for free credit freezes from November 21, 2017 to January 31, 2018.

Note: This post was updated on February 1, 2018 to reflect that Equifax extended the enrollment period for free credit freezes from January 31, 2018 to June 30, 2018.



Why should we have to pay anything for a freeze? You are the ones who have developed this insecure system.
It is just a y/n field in a database. You infuriate me.

Pass Law gov. The 3 credit bureaus that keep and share our data without my approval should at least be made to notify each of us when anything related to us was requested and they should provide us with all information as to who and why so we can contact them if needed. They should require our approval before sharing data.
Why is this not obvious considering the recent Cambridge Analytics outrage.

get them hackers

Experian, despite the law, makes it practically impossible to initiate a free credit freeze. Instead, you are directed to purchase their credit freeze product, for a monthly fee.

If you have a problem with a financial service, tell the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at

Great, I put a freeze on all the bureau's, now I need to refinance. It was simple enough to lift with the other 2, but equifax keeps telling me to mail or fax my photo id's and other proof, and then wait 5-7 business days. They never said before that I'd need a week and a half to lift the freeze! This is totally messing with my home Refi timeline! The lenders won't give me the info I need till all 3 are unfrozen. Do I have recourse? Or am I helpless before equifax, a company I never wanted to do business with.

If you make a request to lift a freeze online or by phone,  a credit bureau must lift a freeze within one hour.

If you make the request by mail, then the bureau must lift the freeze no later than three business days after getting your request. 

If you think a credit reporting agency is not lifting a credit freeze properly, you can submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


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