By LaToya Irby. Credit/Debt Management Expert
Welcome to About.com's Credit/Debt Management site, led by your guide, LaToya Irby. LaToya has been the credit and debt management guide since 2007. Read more
You can prevent identity theft by freezing your credit report. This process prevents creditors and lenders from pulling your credit report and score unless you first unlock it by providing a password. Because most credit applications require a credit check. thieves making applications in your name will get denied when the creditor can't check your credit.
How to Freeze Your Credit Report
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Requests to freeze your credit report must be made in writing and include your name, address, date of birth, social security number, copy of a valid id, proof of address (e.g. copy of utility bill) and payment. Payment can be made via check or credit card.
Special Documents for Identity Theft Victims
In most states, you don't have to pay to freeze (or unfreeze) your credit report if you've been a victim of identity theft. Identity theft victims should provide proof of the theft, i.e. a copy of a police report. identity theft report, or DMV report.
The credit bureau probably won't return your proofs, so send copies not originals of all documents. Finally, mail your request via certified mail with return receipt requested to the credit bureau.
After the credit bureau receives your request, it will respond to you with confirmation that your credit report has been frozen. You will also receive a PIN or password to use whenever you
need to temporarily unfreeze or permanently remove the freeze from your credit report.
Freezing Your Credit Report at Each Credit Bureau
Visit each credit bureau’s site to get more information about placing a security freeze on your credit report.
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The fee schedule is typically between $3 and $10 and varies by state, but all security freeze services are free if you have been a victim of identity theft.
Note that credit bureaus may experience high call volumes and web traffic after major data breaches and other widespread identity attacks. You may experience long phone wait times and even have difficulty accessing the credit bureau online security freeze forms.
You can also place a security freeze by mail (certified mail). Make sure you send the following information in your request:
- Your full name. including your middle initial any generational suffix (e.g. Jr. II, etc.)
- Complete current address. and previous addresses for the past two years
- D ate of birth. month, day, and year
- Social security number
- Proof of identification (e.g. a photocopy of your valid driver's license, passport, state ID, military ID, or birth certificate)
- Address verification (e.g. utility bill, cell phone bill, pay stub. Do not send a credit cards statement, magazine subscription, voided check, or lease agreement)
- Payment (check, money order, or major credit card)
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, Georgia 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013