Freezing your credit report can protect you from identity theft by preventing would-be thieves from opening new accounts in your name. When your credit report is frozen, the credit bureau won’t provide your credit information to lenders seeking it for credit approval purposes. (You’ll have to unfreeze your credit if you’d like to allow potential lenders access to your information.) You can freeze all three of your major credit bureau reports for free. The only caveat is that you have to freeze your reports separately at each credit bureau.
Each credit bureau has a similar process for freezing your credit report. The primary difference is the web address, phone number, and address you’ll use to contact the credit bureau to request your credit freeze.
Freezing Your TransUnion Credit Report
TransUnion is one of a trio of major U.S. credit bureaus, which also includes Equifax and Experian. These businesses collect consumer credit information and then sell it to other businesses. Freezing your TransUnion credit report lets the credit bureau know that it should not provide your credit information to other businesses. This information freeze has the effect of denying anyone from opening new credit accounts using your information.
The fastest way to freeze your TransUnion credit report for free is online. You’ll start the process by providing your personal information to create an online TransUnion account. After your account is created, you’ll verify your identity, and you’ll have the option to freeze your credit report. Make sure you have your Social Security number on hand, as TransUnion will ask for it.
Alternatively, you can call TransUnion at (888)-909-8872 to freeze your credit report. You might go this route if you don’t want to provide your information over the internet, or if you’d prefer not to create a TransUnion account.
Compared to the other two credit bureaus, TransUnion’s online instructions for mailing your credit freeze request are simple. To freeze your TransUnion credit report by mail, send your name, address, and Social Security number to TransUnion, P.O. Box 160, Woodlyn, PA 19094.
If you’re freezing your credit at all three credit bureaus, you can send copies of the same documentation to all three.
Freezing a Minor’s TransUnion Credit Report
You can freeze a minor child’s TransUnion credit report to keep them from becoming victims of identity theft. You’ll have to provide a written request to place a “protected consumer freeze” on your child’s credit file. You must also send copies of certain documentation with your request.
Your credit freeze request must include proof that you have the authority to make the request. You can send one of the following documents:
- A court order
- A power of attorney
- A birth certificate or other proof of parentage
- Foster care documentation
You must also send proof of your own identity by sending one of the following:
- Your social security number
- Your birth certificate
- A copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued IDs
Send your request and the necessary proof to TransUnion, P.O. Box 380, Woodlyn, PA, 19094.
Lifting and Unfreezing Your Credit Report
Once you’ve created an online account with TransUnion, you can log in to unfreeze your credit report, give lenders access to your credit report, or to refreeze your credit report at no additional cost.
To request a temporary lift or permanently unfreeze your credit report, call TransUnion at (888)-909-8872 or write to TransUnion, P.O. Box 380, Woodlyn, PA, 19094. You may need to prove your identity and provide your PIN when you’re making changes to your credit freeze by phone or mail.
TransUnion also provides a subscription service that locks and unlocks your credit report through a mobile app. The lock service prevents unauthorized credit checks but differs from a true credit freeze because it has a monthly fee and is not governed by federal law.
Maybe You Want a Fraud Alert, Instead
In addition to credit freezes, the credit bureaus are required to offer consumers “Fraud Alerts,” too. Fraud alerts require potential lenders or creditors to verify your identity before accessing your credit history and opening a new account.
What Freezing Your TransUnion Credit Report Won’t Do
Once you’ve frozen your TransUnion credit report, most businesses can’t check your credit information with that bureau. However, companies you already have an account with may still check your credit report, although only to review your existing accounts, not to create new ones. Collection agencies representing lenders you have done business with and government agencies with the appropriate court or administrative orders may also access frozen accounts.
Finally, freezing your report won’t prevent your information from being aggregated for credit or insurance offers to prescreen.
Reporting Problems With Your Credit Freeze
TransUnion is legally required to freeze your credit report at your request. You can submit a complaint to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau online or by calling 855-411-2372 if you believe TransUnion is not placing the credit freeze properly.