For many years, dealing with frozen credit accounts was a headache for all credit card users. Fortunately, today if you have somehow frozen your credit, you have a few new options to explore. Yes, you can easily unfreeze your credit. But for that, you may need to follow certain expert advice.
But first, you must know what a credit freeze is and why it is happening.
What is a credit freeze?
A credit freeze or security freeze gives you the option to restrict access to your credit report. For this reason, identity thieves can’t access or open your credit report to create new accounts in your name. It’s good to freeze your credit if you are experiencing an identity theft issue or fraud. But it also has a negative impact too. Most creditors need to see your credit report before approving a new account. If they can’t access your report, they won’t extend the credit.
Once your credit is frozen, you may still apply for a loan or a credit card. The funny thing is your application practically won’t be approved by lenders or credit card companies. The reason is that as your credit profile is frozen, your credit report will not be accessible by any third party due to the block.
So, without a proper credit check, a potential lender won’t approve your loan application. You might be thinking that it will be treated as a hard inquiry and hurt your score.
No, it won’t hurt your credit. There was no hard inquiry at all as the lender couldn’t get his hands on your credit profile. However, for your future applications, you need to unfreeze your credit and try again.
Here’s how to find out at each credit bureau whether your credit is already frozen or not.
How to check if your credit is frozen
|Online – You need a myEquifax account and you need to log in. At myEquifax.com, you will see a tile on the upper right of the dashboard. This will show you your credit freeze status.||Online – It can be checked online at the TransUnion website, you need to put your username and password. After a successful login, you may see your account status appear at the top of the page.||Online -As per Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of public education, you need to visit Experian’s “Security Freeze Center” page and select “retrieve my personal identification number (PIN).” You’ll see the “Request your PIN” screen. If there is a PIN available, you may get it and use it to lift your freeze. If there is no PIN, you’ll be notified that there is no record, and your credit is not frozen.|
|By phone – If you don’t have an account, or want to check by phone, you may call 800-349-9960 and follow the instructions to verify yourself. If your credit report is not frozen, you will only hear options for freezing it. If it freezes, you will hear only options to unfreeze your credit.||By phone – You can also call 1-888-909-8872.||By phone – You may also call 1-888-397-3742 and follow the instructions. Your Social Security number and ZIP Code will be required. Once you are getting identified, you’ll get the option to unfreeze your credit if it freezes.|
|By email – You’ll need to download this form from Equifax. After verifying your identity, Equifax will lift the freeze. Mail to Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348.||By email – Email your written request to TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 160, Woodlyn, PA 19094.||By email – Mail to Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013.|
FAQ on freezing and unfreezing credit
Now, once you know that your credit is frozen, the first thing you should do is to contact your credit bureau and ask some questions.
These are the questions and answers that may help you in this situation:
#What are the options available for unfreezing credit?
You can lift your credit freeze for a certain period, after that, it will be automatically reinstated. You have the option to lift the freeze permanently. However, it can make your credit profile vulnerable to criminal activity. Credit expert, John Ulzheimer, suggests that you may unfreeze your credit for 7 days, for most credit card applications and loans. If you are getting approved for a mortgage, unfreeze the credit until your closing date.
#How do you unfreeze the credit?
As I said earlier, once you lift the freeze on a temporary basis, it will again become frozen at the end of the time period. However, if you permanently lift the freeze, it won’t be refrozen automatically. You just need to refreeze your account just like when you were freezing your credit for the first time.
#Is it possible to get approved for a loan or credit with a freeze on your account?
Practically, you will not get approved for a loan or credit card with a freeze on your account. Creditors will fetch your credit report before deciding on your application. So, once they can not reach your credit profile due to the freeze, they won’t approve your application at all.
But there are exceptions. You may choose not to freeze your credit in all three credit bureaus at a time. This way the creditor can check any one of your credit reports where your credit is not frozen. Apart from that, you may also apply for a “no-credit-check” loan or credit line.
#Does a credit freeze affect your credit score?
A credit freeze does not affect your credit score. There are a few other things that
a credit freeze does not prohibit:
- You may receive your free annual credit report.
- You can open a new account after lifting the freeze temporarily. Feel free to lift the freeze and feel free to place it again. As per USAToday on sept. 21,2018 – “a new federal law allows people to freeze and unfreeze their credit at the three major credit bureaus without being charged. Before, it cost consumers in almost half the states $3 to $12 per bureau to freeze or unfreeze their credit reports.”
- You may apply for a new job, rent an apartment, or buy insurance coverage. Your credit freeze won’t impact these cases.
- Credit freeze can’t keep you safe from being a victim of further fraud. A thief or a fraudster can charge your existing accounts if he/she gets all of your data. You still need to monitor your bank accounts, credit cards, and insurance statements regularly to identify any fraudulent activity.
#Can anyone check your credit report when it is frozen?
Certain authorities may access your credit profile even if it’s frozen:
- Your credit report is accessible to your existing creditors and to the debt collectors.
- Federal agencies and government authorities may also access your credit report if they require it. For that, they need to show you proper court orders or administrative orders and a search warrant.
As per consumer.ftc.gov – If you opt for a temporary lift because you are applying for credit or a job, and you can find out which credit bureau the business will contact for your file, you can save some time by lifting the freeze only at that particular credit bureau. Otherwise, you will need to request all three credit bureaus.
This way you may customize when to unfreeze your credit. Freezing your credit is quite effective to prevent criminal activities such as identity theft. You can choose to unfreeze for a specified time period, after which the freeze automatically resumes.