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How to Unfreeze Your Credit

Contact each credit bureau online to lift your credit freeze quickly. Have your PIN handy.
Sept. 10, 2018
Credit Score, Personal Finance
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If you placed a credit freeze, you may want to reopen your credit files at some point to apply for a new car loan or credit card.

You have to unfreeze your credit with each credit bureau. It’s an easy job if you have your PIN, and you should be able to do it quickly online. You can also lift your freeze via mail and by calling. Starting Sept. 21, it will be free to freeze and thaw your credit files.

Here’s how to unfreeze your credit with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

How to unfreeze credit with Equifax

Equifax recommends that identity theft victims request the freeze lift by mail so they can include documentation, such as a police report. The website says you can choose to unfreeze your credit temporarily for a specific creditor or for a specified period, from one day to one year.

Contact info: Equifax; Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348; 800-685-1111 (New York residents, 800-349-9960)

Fees: There is no fee to place or lift a security freeze, as a result of consumers’ objections after the Equifax data breach announced in late 2017.

If you lose your PIN: Request a new PIN via mail, sending proof of identity.

How to unfreeze credit with Experian

You can request that a freeze be lifted for a specific time; there’s no maximum. The online form warns, however, that you can’t change the date range for the freeze lift once you’ve submitted it.

Experian also offers a single-use PIN that can help ensure your information is seen only by a creditor you authorize, so it isn’t exposed needlessly. Experian gives you the PIN, and you give it to the entity checking your credit.

Contact info: Experian; Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013; 888-397-3742

Fees: You may have to pay a fee to unfreeze credit with Experian; check the state-by-state list of fees. Fees will be lifted by Sept. 21.

If you lose your PIN: The simplest, quickest way to get your PIN is to retrieve it via the Experian “freeze center.” You can also request it by mail after sending a copy of your proof of identity. Or call 888-397-3742, and an automated system will let you request that Experian mail a PIN reminder to you.

How to unfreeze credit with TransUnion

For online freeze lifts, TransUnion requires you to sign in with your username and password; you would have set those up when you placed the freeze or if you’ve disputed anything on your credit report. Once signed in, you also need the PIN issued when you froze your credit.

You can lift the freeze for one to 30 days, beginning on a start date you pick. You can lift the freeze for a time or for certain creditors for whom you can create an access code to be used during a limited time. This differs from Experian’s single-use code because it can give multiple creditors access to your file during the time window.

Contact info: TransUnion; TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016, 888-909-8872

Fees: You may have to pay a fee to temporarily unfreeze your credit. The cost is calculated from information contained in your TransUnion membership; you’ll need to look it up if you’re requesting to unfreeze your credit by mail so you can send payment. The fees will be lifted by Sept. 21 to comply with federal law.

If you lose your sign-in information or PIN: You can go online to get that information with your Social Security number, birthdate and the answer to a challenge question. Once signed in to your TransUnion account, you can request a new PIN.

What are my choices for unfreezing credit?

You can temporarily lift a credit freeze in two ways:

  • Lift a freeze for a certain number of days. You might do this if you’re shopping for a mortgage or car loan or applying for a credit card.
  • Allow access to a specific creditor, for example, when a potential landlord wants to check your credit. This option isn’t available in all states.

If you are applying for a loan, you may be able to ask the lender which credit bureau will be used and unfreeze only that one, reducing both your risks and any expense.

Permanently lifting a credit freeze is also an option, but NerdWallet doesn’t recommend giving up the protections a freeze gives you. Temporarily lifting a freeze occasionally is much less trouble than unwinding the effects of identity theft.

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