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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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FTC Staff
June 27, 2019

In reply to by Katrinaw2019#

If someone took over your computer and got into your files, don't use your bank account or credit card online for now. Don't let the hackers get into your computer to "fix" things.

Use computer software that you trust to scan your computer. The software should scan your computer to check for malware or other problems. If you don't have software, you could go to a store that offers computer tech support. Explain what happened and ask them to check your computer for malware.

June 28, 2019
Credit freeze dos not work - have freeze on all 3 credit reporting companies and still get calls e.g. to lower the interest rate on credit accounts plus the callers know the last name and address and always say they got the info from the credit reporting companies!!
FTC Staff
June 28, 2019

In reply to by Dueren1956

Your credit freeze can still be in effect, even if you get unwanted calls about lowering your interest rates on credit cards. If you put a freeze on your credit reports, you put a limit on who can see your credit report.

People who make unwanted calls can get your name and address from public listings. They can say they got your information from credit reporting companies, but they might be lying.

Your credit freeze stays in effect until you ask the credit reporting company to lift it. This FTC article tells more about Credit Freezes.


July 18, 2019
experian requires mailed requst for credit freeze. too slow
July 20, 2019
Experian is making me jump through hoops to place credit-freeze. I'm doing it online. Im answering all their questions, but they're saying Im not providing enough info. They're asking me to mail just about every paper document I possess, including a utility bill. IMO, ITS A STALL TACTIC. Hope someone in consumer protection calls them out.
July 25, 2019
Have tried for hours to use the Experian website to remove freeze, have called several numbers listed for customer service, continue to receive notice that I must send the request in writing. What's the point of having a website as well as CS number if there is no human to help?
FTC Staff
September 26, 2019

In reply to by Unsatisified

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.

July 27, 2019
If someone gets my personal info from somewhere else, it would seem they can go the the credit reporting agencies, masquerading as me, and lift a credit freeze. What defenses are in place to prevent unauthorized lifting of a freeze?
FTC Staff
September 26, 2019

In reply to by Carlos

Each credit bureau should provide you with a unique PIN or password when you place a freeze on your credit report. You need to have that PIN or password if you choose to lift the freeze.

September 26, 2019
Transunion is easy and straightforward, Equifax wants to snail mail a code # to verify ID (which is OK), but Experian seem to want to make it so difficult that one will give up ( don’t accept online info, online questions are meaningless, and want request to freeze mailed in with multiple ID copies). They want full SS# number over the phone which I am not comfortable with. Why is FTC allowing this?
FTC Staff
September 26, 2019

In reply to by Sunann

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.

July 30, 2019
Do I need to freeze credit with all 3 bureaus? or is one enough?
FTC Staff
November 18, 2019

In reply to by Neel

 A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report, which makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. You can choose whether you want to protect your information at one, two or three credit reporting bureaus.

July 31, 2019
Do both members of a married couple need to freeze their credit with each agency? Since there are 3 major credit reporting agencies, do we need to submit 3 requests for my husband and 3 for me for a total of 6 requests?
FTC Staff
September 26, 2019

In reply to by nh

Usually, each member of a married couple has a credit report. A person's credit report has information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, or filed for bankruptcy. Even if a married couple has some joint credit - like a mortgage - they have their own  credit reports.  Each person has to ask for their own credit freezes. This article about credit freezes has links to the credit bureaus and more information.


August 03, 2019
I placed a freeze with all 3 bureaus after the massive equifax breach but since then temporarily lifted them a couple of time for a specific period of time. Is there a way to double check that the freeze is back on?
August 11, 2019
Can a freeze or unfreeze for all three credit reporting agencies be easily done online rather than calling each individual agency?
FTC Staff
September 26, 2019

In reply to by Jabo

You should have gotten a PIN or password at each credit bureau when you froze your report at that bureau. When you want to unfreeze your report at a bureau, you have to contact the bureau and give your PIN or password before it will unfreeze your credit report. There is no central source for unfreezing all the reports at once. Read more about credit freezes.

August 14, 2019
Be careful! EXPERIAN REFUSES to unfreeze my credit profile. Even with the pin they provided. I have been unable to get any loans for several years now. It has been a huge headache. I call them and get the run around and passed around. They eventually tell me I just need a new pin. I get new pin and it, again, doesn’t work. This company needs a federal investigation into them.
FTC Staff
September 26, 2019

In reply to by cr250Ram

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.

August 23, 2019
I was disputing a claim on my Equifax report and the next thing I know I'm getting an email saying I signed up with Equifax for a security freeze and will be getting monitoring and two free reports a year. I didn't ask for that. I just wanted an explanation from the company and it off my report? Does this mess up my claim? Can they just sign you up or are these two different things?
FTC Staff
November 18, 2019

In reply to by Ewi201

When you dispute error on your credit report, contact the credit reporting company and the business that gave the information. Credit reporting companies usually have to investigate your dispute within 30 days and send you an answer in writing. This article tells more about disputing errors.

You are not required to sign up for a security freeze, monitoring or other services so that a company will review your dispute.

You can ask Equifax why you're signed up for the security freeze and other services. See if there is a contact number or email on the message they sent you.

August 23, 2019
If you put a freeze on your credit report and need to release it, why is it difficult?
FTC Staff
September 26, 2019

In reply to by chick

The credit bureau should have given you a PIN or password when you asked to freeze your account. You need the PIN or password when you ask to lift the freeze.

A freeze stays in place until you ask the credit bureau to lift it temporarily or remove it. If you make the request online or by phone, a credit bureau must lift a freeze within one hour. If you make the request by mail, the bureau must lift the freeze no later than three business days after it gets your request.

You can report problems you have with a credit bureau to the FTC at The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

September 23, 2019
I think someone from the Consumer Credit Agency should test the credit freeze process from all 3 credit bureaus as they don't all make it easy for consumers to place the freeze. I believe the government has the responsibilities to correct or insist that these credit bureaus help consumers avoid id theft as well as providing the services to stay in business. If not, the government should fine them or shut them down, because we don't have the power to make them work for us. I didn't have problems with Experian and Transition, but it was a nightmare to try to get through with Equifax. I tried calling several times on different days, answered all the ID questions but got a message each time that they cannot process my request. Then one day I finally got through to speak with an agent, he was more interested in selling my a credit report for a fee instead of helping me to place a freeze on my account. Then finally after refusing to pay and insisting that I wanted my credit account frozen, he said, "it is done and you will receive a letter in the mail in 7 days." I asked for a confirmation number but he said there was non to give to me. I waited approx. an hour and called back, got a woman agent this time, explained to her my concerns, she was very polite and helpful to give me the confirmation number, said I will also get a letter in the mail in 5 days. I tried to give a requested survey on the phone about the service, but the system is a joke. If Equifax is truly interested in the survey or improve their services, they have a lot of work to do. I don't feel comfortable that I am protected until the government clamp down on these credit bureaus. I hope that you are listening and will help us out. Thank you for listening.
FTC Staff
September 26, 2019

In reply to by ange

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.

October 24, 2019
I did contact the credit bureau this should not stop me from getting a loan out on my house
January 15, 2020
Experian is HORRIBLE. When their online security alert did not work, I called for a human and it was impossible to talk to anyone without giving out my ssn first. Since I don't know them, do not borrow money, and simply want to put a freeze on, I refuse to give out my ssn w/out at least talking to an Experian rep. So, you easy security freeze didn't work this time.
RUTH 't use yo…
September 22, 2021
Trying to freeze my credit. On phone want to send code to phone. But cannot get it because On the phone Only one Transunion gives great customer Service
July 08, 2020
There should be one number you could call for all three credit report companies in order to freeze/unfreeze accounts.
August 23, 2021
Is there an alternate phone number for Experian? I can't get a human on the line.
September 12, 2021
I've lift the freeze on my account
Don't use your…
September 21, 2021
I found out Monday I have become the victim of identity theft. I contacted Equifax using the number you provided. My credit report now has a freeze. I contacted Experian and their automated system just wanted to give me the information on how to freeze my account. It said I could not be transferred to a live agent to speak to. Their website offers a lock not a freeze and costs $19.95 a month. Transunion wanted me to create a pin number. I don't want to create an account. Couldn't talk to anyone. The FTC needs to force Experian and Transunion to offer live agents to assist people in putting a freeze on their credit report. I'm not a machine and I don't want to talk to machines. I don't want to create more accounts with all my personal information they require only to have all my personal information out there to be stolen again.