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Free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts are here, starting September 21st, thanks to a new federal law. Here’s what you should know:

Free credit freezes

Security freezes, also known as credit freezes, restrict access to your credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Starting September 21, 2018, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit file for free. You also can get a free freeze for your children who are under 16. And if you are someone’s guardian, conservator or have a valid power of attorney, you can get a free freeze for that person, too.

How will these freezes work? Contact all three of the nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you request a freeze online or by phone, the agency must place the freeze within one business day. If you request a lift of the freeze, the agency must lift it within one hour. If you make your request by mail, the agency must place or lift the freeze within three business days after it gets your request. You also can lift the freeze temporarily without a fee.

Don’t confuse freezes with locks. They work in a similar way, but locks may have monthly fees. If you want a free freeze guaranteed by federal law, then opt for a freeze, not a lock.

Year-long fraud alerts

A fraud alert tells businesses that check your credit that they should check with you before opening a new account. Starting September 21, 2018, when you place a fraud alert, it will last one year, instead of 90 days. Fraud alerts will still be free and identity theft victims can still get an extended fraud alert for seven years.

Credit freezes and the military

If you’re in the military, you’ll still have access to active duty alerts, which let you place a fraud alert for one year, renewable for the time you’re deployed. The active duty alert also gives you an added benefit: the credit reporting agencies will take your name off their marketing lists for prescreened credit card offers for two years (unless you ask them to add you back on).

You can place a fraud alert or active duty alert by visiting any one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. The one that you contact must notify the other two. You also can find links to their websites at

Issues with a credit freeze

If you think a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint online or by calling 855-411-2372. If you think someone stole your identity, visit the FTC’s website,, to get a personalized recovery plan that walks you through the steps to take.

For more information, check out Place a Fraud Alert, Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes, and Credit Freeze FAQs. And if you’re considering a child credit freeze, you also may want to read Child Identity Theft.

Credit Bureau Contacts

Contact the national credit bureaus to request fraud alerts, credit freezes (also known as security freezes), and opt outs from pre‑screened credit offers.


888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)


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September 22, 2018
Will someone from the FTC please answer midwater’s question? Thanks so much. Appreciate all the info.
September 22, 2018
It would be nice if they actually let you file the freeze instead of saying we can't process your request
Wishful thinking
September 22, 2018
I wish there was a way to prevent ever having a credit file. Such transactions are between me and the other party. I can keep a file of credit references myself.
Carol R
September 22, 2018
Tried online twice to freeze my credit through Equifax. All info entered was correct but site said there was an error and to call the 888 number. Called but can’t do anything till Monday. Seriously, this is ridiculous!!!!
September 22, 2018
Will a fraud alert I initiated in July 2018 be automatically extended for a full year due to the new law or do I have to request a new fraud alert?
FTC Staff
September 24, 2018

In reply to by Jeffrey

You should request a new fraud alert. You can make the request at one credit reporting agency, and it will alert the other two agencies.

ripped off
September 22, 2018
These credit agencies are a joke and seem to have zero accountability. They mess up all the time and at least one of them provides absolutely no way to communicate with a human being on the phone or otherwise unless it’s to sell you their product. I paid $10 for a credit freeze to be placed years ago and recently suspected fraud so I went to check up on it. I found there was no freeze on my account at all and none of the security stuff (pin, password, etc) was even in place. What the heck did they charge me for?!
September 22, 2018
Federal Trade Commission needs to shut Equifax down. Thier system is dysfunctional, and consumers credit should not be subject to thier poor conduct of business.
September 25, 2018
Unfortunately, it looks like having a freeze in place with this new federal law will not protect us from someone attempting to fraudulently rent an apartment or apply for a job in our name (and perhaps other situations.) This seems like a rather large loophole for other types of identity fraud. "Sec. 301 (4) Exceptions A security freeze shall not apply to the making of a consumer report for use of the following: — (I) Any person using the information for employment, tenant, or background screening purposes." [1] [1] My question for the FTC is ... What types of tools similar to a credit freeze are available through federal law/regulations to American consumers to protect their consumer file at tenant, employee and background screening consumer reporting agencies?
FTC Staff
September 25, 2018

In reply to by Timothy

The law applies only to nationwide credit reporting agencies. Please contact a business directly to ask if it offers a freeze.

Order and review your free credit report to make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. When you review your report, you help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number — to commit fraud.

September 23, 2018
Why are there so many credit bureaus with a credit file on you that score your credit and is able to affect your interest rate on a purchase, or rather you are denied or approved for credit?
Always Skeptical
September 23, 2018
Midwater~ I am happy you were able to get a loan without lifting all three credit reporting agencies. If we can get our loans approved with only two, all the better.
September 24, 2018
Is the 4th credit reporting agency, Innovis, covered by this law? www. innovis. com/ fraudActiveDutyAlerts/ index
FTC Staff
September 25, 2018

In reply to by MRB

The law applies only to nationwide credit reporting agencies. Please contact a company directly to ask if it offers a freeze.

September 24, 2018
My family once used Experian or Equifax for six months to protect “lock I think” our accounts. BUT WHEN WE CANCELLED WE HAD TO DO SO THRU AN EMPLOYEE IN INDIA AND GIVE HIM OUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER! NO AMERICAN EMPLOYEE COULD TAKE OUR CANCELLATION! AND WHEN YOU CANCELL THEY WARN YOU YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE SUSCEPTIBLE TO FRAUD! I complained to the company and our Attorney Generals (AG)office who had originally recommended we get protection as our personal information was given to a fraudulent caller, whom our AG office had said they could not do anything about as most fraudulent callers were from overseas and untraceable! MAYBE EXPERIAN COULD HELP TRACK THEM BY GIVING THEIR OVERSEAS EMPLOYEES NAMES! EXPERIAN HAS HAD AN INFORMATION LEAK, RIGHT?! I think as Americans we should have the freedom to have our personal financial information kept private AND I MEAN PRIVATE FROM THE COMPANIES WHO ARE OUR SO CALLED CREDIT BURUEA! Oh yea President Woodrow Wilson said he sold us out to the Banking Cartel!
November 30, 2020

In reply to by Karen

I think Experian/Equifax are disgustingly fradulent companies that should be abolished. I strongly believe they encourage the hackers and identity snatchers, just so they can force their crappy services on us consumers, all in the name of making money. They prey especially on the elderly and the poor. #AMERICAN GREED #SHAMELESS PEOPLE #NO INTEGRITY
September 24, 2018
What does it mean to “make it hard” for a company to access your credit information if you freeze your account. What information do they need to access your account?
FTC Staff
September 24, 2018

In reply to by Vern

When you place a freeze on your credit file, creditors can't get access to your credit file to get the information they need before they can open a new account for you. Your credit file includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. You can get a free copy of your own credit report at

September 24, 2018
Equifax does not allow us to file online. They're asking for a request to be mailed - another inefficient company tactic to make it so people will become frustrated and not freeze their credit.
September 24, 2018
I received a letter from CHASE BANK saying that someone was trying to use my personal information.
September 25, 2018
Have tried multiple times to freeze access to our credit report with Experian. All online forms filled out correctly but Experian site says it didn't work and says to mail (postal mail) in information. Telephone numbers are not staffed and direct me back to online site, which doesn't work. FTC, PLEASE look into this: we had a credit card incident last week and have been trying for literally days and days to freeze Experian. To date their only response (via their web site) is to try to sell us protection services. We believe Experian is non-compliant with the law that required them as of Sept 21 2018 to enable no-cost freeze.
FTC Staff
September 26, 2018

In reply to by FrustratedConsumer

If you believe a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint at or by calling 855-411-2372.

September 26, 2018
This is fantastic! Thanks to all who worked on this new policy.
September 26, 2018
I looked at the forms on each of the 3 Credit Report companies, in reference to freezing the accounts of an incapacitated adult. There are instances when a Judge orders a County (Adult Protective Services) to assume guardianship of property (finances) and the forms do not recognize that someone other than a private citizen can be appointed Guardian of someone's property (finances)!
September 28, 2018
Equifax and Transunion allowed me to place a credit freeze via online. Experian would not, but instead requires to send documentation in by mail. Is this correct?
October 03, 2018
I tried to change my password on Facebook, everything was correct except my location which reads Atlanta, Georgia. I reside in Miami, Florida
October 09, 2018
Looking for to get taking off when fill application online it show up want can help see why it there thank for the inconvenience
FTC Staff
October 09, 2018

In reply to by alonzobell91

You can get help to put on a credit freeze.

  • Call Equifax at 800-865-1111.
  • Call Experian at 888-397-3742.
  • Call TransUnion at 888-909-8872.
October 07, 2018
Need protection concerning my credit with all three credit bureaus
Donna Richardson
November 29, 2018
To much info
October 15, 2018
I went to the Experian website to do a freeze, filled out the information, and it came back saying they weren't going to do the freeze. NO EXPLANATION WAS GIVEN!! And there was no other recourse. I called the Experian number, and after giving up lots of information to their automated phone system, they, in effect, told (via robotic voice) that they weren't going to do anything for me and hung up. I thought that, BY LAW, they were required to do this freeze if requested. Well, they didn't do it!
very frustrated
June 27, 2019
they rejected the request, though I sent all the required information and used their specified form (https:// assets. equifax. com/ assets /personal/ Minor_ Freeze_ Request_ Form. pdf). I called them and after 2 hours the concluded they had the wrong address on the form. It should be PO Box 105139 Atlanta Ga 30348-5139. They refuse to fix this on their site. Please correct your stories/links so that all these other consumers aren't wasting their time and effort like I did to request a freeze from them. They do not care. Two days later i get a rejection letter from transunion saying i did not submit "the required fee". It is as though they are not following the new law, contradicting their own websites and media reports. Very disappointed.
November 02, 2018
Free Security Freeze
November 29, 2018
A scam computer fix company has access to my computer. Will I have to get a new credit card. Number when freeze my acounts? Is there something else I should do in addition to freezing ? i'm having a trusted tech hopefully remove their ability to. Continue to do so When i had previously signged on with Experion my info was exposed when they were hacked Why are they still recommended when you can't even reach them and if you do, they make life so difficult?
FTC Staff
November 29, 2018

In reply to by wondering

If a scammer took your credit card number, call your credit card company and cancel the card. Ask for a new card. Check your credit card statement. If someone made charges on your your card, contact your credit card company.

If you freeze your credit, it will be harder for a thief to open a new account in your name. If you freeze your credit, you can unfreeze it yourself when you want to get credit. To start a freeze, contact all three credit reporting agencies. Use the phone numbers and website Contact information in this blog.

Free credit freezes
November 19, 2018
Free credit freezes that is good. Would like to know what is being done to insure that what happened with peoples credit info. & personal Info. due to credit bureau & retail store stupidly never happens again. The people get screwed no matter what they do.
November 29, 2018
Great example of the government (both parties) working for the good of the people. Credit freezes should be free and now they are.
November 29, 2018
I was hacked and want a credit freeze to anyone who tries to open up a new credit card account in my name. I have already taken the proper precautions with my one credit card.
December 02, 2018
Credit Report Freezing - Online: Transunion: quick and easy. Well run company. Equifax: wait about an hour after creating account before freezing. Then, works great. Save the PDF! It has a PIN you'll need to unfreeze. Experian: fill the form. submit. receive notice to send them a letter! (every time) They're confused by this new internet thingy.
December 04, 2018
If my wife and I both use the same e-mail do we have to freeze both parties?
FTC Staff
December 10, 2018

In reply to by Slick

A credit freeze limits who can get access to your person's credit report. Each person has his or her own credit report.  If you and your wife both want freezes, you both need to contact the credit reporting companies and ask to place freezes on your own credit reports.

Your credit report has information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses. Businesses use the information to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

December 15, 2018
I was told on the Equifax website that I was impacted by the breach in 2017. I didn't even know about this incident until recently, as I try to get my credit in better shape. One, should I do a freeze on my credit file just for this reason, or should I not do one if after reviewing my reports I find no credit card accounts that are not mine? Secondly, I am have no a problem with collection agencies trying to resubmit old deliquent medical bills as new ones, with this year as the year they were opened & for some medical places I haven't used in over 8 years, would a credit file freeze keep other collection agencies from being able to buy and/or see my old or almost past the 7 or 7.5 year removal period collections & reissue them as new collections? The most recent was a company called Commonwealth Financial. One account I haven't used the original creditor in years & I have had health insurance, which would have covered it for years now too. I have looked them up & it appears they are doing this, only with medical collections that shouldn't be on a person's file & their customer service won't help you & the credit bureaus just validate your name with them & say it's okay... Third, and last question, is what does a fraud alert do, keep private, allow to be seen, etc. on your credit file? What's your best advice on these issues? Thanks for your time in this.
January 12, 2019
If all of our credit cards and loans are in both my wife's name and my name as joint owners, do we both need to freeze our credit in order to be protected?
FTC Staff
June 27, 2019

In reply to by CowboyBob

You and your wife have your own identities and your own credit files. Your credit files include things like old addresses, other names you might have used, and credit cards or loans you might have had individually, even years ago. To be fully protected, you would each get a credit freeze.

CRDon't use yo…
January 24, 2019
I can only echo the experience of others: Experian is deliberately obstructive when attempting to freeze ones account. The online portal always refuses customer information. The phone system runs into a dead end. The only option is to mail highly sensitive information, and of course probably jump through further hoops and a protracted time line. What a scam. I will report them to the FTC as suggested and recommend everyone does.
February 08, 2019
i am scammed . i need lelp
Chris Jones
February 11, 2019
My girlfriend and I were going to freeze our credit after getting up to date credit reports but never received a free credit report from Equifax after requesting on phone over a month ago - we did get them from the other two (transunion and experian) within a week but never got one from the company Equifax that has had the hacking issue and trying to contact them for it has been a nightmare via computer talking robots - very frustrating - where is the accountability? Their company should be shut down period - why do we the consumers with excellent hard earned credit scores have to deal with this company's stupid mistakes? Where's the justice in that?
May 02, 2019
If my credit is frozen, will positive up-tics in my credit still appear?
FTC Staff
June 27, 2019

In reply to by KevinY86

If you freeze your credit, it limits access to your credit file. That makes it  harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

The freeze limits access to your file, but it does not close your file. When you have a freeze, information can still be added to your file. For example, information about whether you pay your bills on time will still be added to your credit file when there is a freeze on your account.

June 05, 2019
Hello, My computer was just hacked by my wifi. I am now receiving phone calls from these hackers telling me that they are from the social security department and asking me have I ever been to the Texas/Mexico border? I know they are the hackers because when I request to speak to someone who speaks english they continue to question me. I have let my financial institution which I conduct business with know what has happened. I am also a member of Lexington Law Firm. Which I informed them of the hacking of my wifi. I am concerned in regards to these individuals having my information. I was on the phone with them when they had locked my computer and then provided a 888 number in order for me to unlock my computer. They then were able to literally controll my computer while they acted like a Microsoft representative. They showed me where my computer had been hacked and then asked me for my credit card information for them to clean my computer. I did not give them my information. The next day I received a phone call with the same 888 number stating that they were from the social security department and that my account was being investigated for fraudelant drug activity in the Texas and Mexio area. I am now hesitant to use my computer because I feel as though they are watching my every move. They just recently called again with a 800 number what can I do to shut them out of my computer? Cellphone?