Posted by William Charles on September 21, 2018
Misc

Published on September 21st, 2018 | by William Charles

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Credit Report Freezes & Unfreezes Are Now Free Nationwide

Starting today you can now  freeze and unfreeze your credit report nationwide for free (also referred to as a security freeze, credit report freeze or credit lock). This is thanks to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act that was signed in May partly in response to the Equifax data breach. Under the new law consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) have until the next business day to enact a credit freeze and if a consumer wants to lift the freeze it must be done within an hour. These consumer reporting agencies have created dedicated web portals for freezes:

A credit freeze means that your credit report is unable to be accessed or pulled from any of the consumer reporting agencies. Almost all lenders look at an individuals credit report before approving them for a loan, by having your report frozen this can prevent unauthorized loans in your name being processed – something particularly important to victims of identity theft.Previously the fees involved for placing and lifting a security freeze varied state by state. In addition fees also varied based on whether an individual was the victim of identity theft and also the individuals age. Some states already required consumer reporting agencies to provide credit report freezes for free.

If you’d like to know more about the pros and cons of adding a freeze to your report, read this linked article.



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Dylan
Dylan

For those of us to like to limit pur hard pulls, this is AWESOME! I have been looking at capital one cards and i wanted to freeze my experian report to prevent even more hard pulls.

This is great news for those of us on the forum.

Gadget
Gadget

Three problems:

1. Freezing your reports also stops new bank deposit account opening soft pulls. So expect to get denied for almost every bank account if you have your “big 3” reports froze.

2. You’re probably going to wait days to “thaw” them, and then reapply after a denial. Just because the website access will be there doesn’t mean it’s instant. I have access to my bank account, but the transactions aren’t all done in real-time.

3. Many banks are not forthcoming about which CRA they pull (and I’ve had at least one bank CSR tell me the wrong one, because all they know is how to push the buttons on the computer), you will be having to thaw all 3 after each denial.

As someone who opens new bank accounts 1-4 times a month, and usually a credit card at least once per quarter, I will not be freezing my reports unless I know for sure someone is opening new accounts in my name.

Dylan
Dylan

This is not what i was referring to.

I am talking about freezing your account with a credit buearu, applying for a credit card, then unfreezing after you have been approved for the desired credit card. You do this only to optimize your hard pulls and all other times your reports will remain unfrozen.

I am going to freeze my experian and transunion report and apply for the BofA premium rewards card since my experien and transunion report is currently full of hard pulls. I can tell BofA to pull equifax instead since on that report I have the fewest hard pulls.

beat2def
beat2def

Will they pull Transunion if you ask them to? My Experian and Equifax are hard pull heavy right now.

Ken
Ken

BOA will definitely pull TU with EX frozen. My wife and I have both asked them to pull TU.

beat2def
beat2def

If you don’t mind me asking, how many inquiries did you have on your Trans? Right now I have 7.

John stewart
John stewart

Experian frozen and Discover couldn’t pull. I went to chat and told them to use Equifax, which they did and approved me.

YoungestofAlltheBuck
YoungestofAlltheBuck

BoA won’t pull EQ even if you ask

beat2def
beat2def

They pulled mine for the Alaskan personal card and pulled Trans for the business card.

Geoff
Geoff

@Dylan,

You say, “I am talking about freezing your account with a credit buearu, applying for a credit card, then unfreezing after you have been approved for the desired credit card.”

Don’t you have that backwards? I unfreeze all three, apply, then freeze them all one day later. This allows the hard pull without going through the denial. Transunion sometimes msgs me within 30 seconds of applying that my credit has been accessed, in which case I re-freeze immediately.

Ryan Goldstein

Notwithstanding the inconvenience of freezing and unfreezing to open accounts, replying to your #2, the law does specify that thaw requests have to be fulfilled within one hour.

Personally, my plan moving forward is to stay frozen, and before applying for any accounts where I enter my SSN, I’ll thaw them all an hour ahead of time, then freeze again after the application goes through.

Not the most convenient thing in the world, but at least for me, that strikes the best balance between security and convenience.

Kay
Kay

I am with you on this strategy as we are all sitting ducks with the gigantic breach with Equifax.

Gadget
Gadget

I saw that one hour thing after I wrote my comment – I am very surprised the CRA’s will be able to pull that off when they couldn’t even promise a LOCK could be lifted in an hour when I tried Experian’s Identity protection. Still seems like quite the hassle. According to an article I read, if you lose/forget your PIN, it’s likely you have to wait on snail mail to reset it.

Abelian Grape
Abelian Grape

I’m practice locks are lifted pretty much instantly.

CM

The article reports that they’re required to do the unfree within one hour per upcoming regulations — surely it can be done in real-time if they want.

You have many good points otherwise, but the fact that these tools are free now and open to the general public will hopefully make the banks more appreciative of availing the info, otherwise, their denials will go up and up over time as more folks keep their accounts frozen.

But I agree with you otherwise — I don’t think it necessarily makes much sense for us to use these tools, but it’s still nice that they’re there.

Gadget
Gadget

Absolutely agree that it’s nice to have the tools available, and that the CRA’s provide a service since they are so kindly collecting all our data. Honestly, I hope it works great! I just don’t foresee using them because of my concerns over not getting bank deposit accounts approved.

Gadget
Gadget

In response to my own concerns; according to the law, your supposed to be able to freeze within one business day, and unfreeze in one hour. We will see how well that works in practice.

alvinroast
alvinroast

Unfreezing is free as well.

Gadget
Gadget

I agree. I didn’t say it wasn’t going to be free.

Debit
Debit

This is how it may end up working:
They will ask you to send in a hand written request to P O box and within one hour of the request being in the system they will unfreeze. So in reality it still be two weeks.

Seen this rodeo before.

zzz
zzz

I was unable to freeze my experian online. They are asking me to mail them my request with a bill statement. But I had absolutely no issue with equifax and transunion…

John stewart
John stewart

We had to mail or experian freezes in a few weeks ago, but that may be changed now.

Geoff
Geoff

I’ve been doing this with TU for months using their TrueIdentity product and it’s immediate.

BigEz
BigEz

This is an exaggeration. I have consistently had my reports frozen for a few years now and only unfreeze them when I apply for new cards. In fact, I just applied for the Chase Hyatt (without remembering to unfreeze), they said that they couldn’t give me a decision until I thawed my Experian. So while I was on the phone, I thawed it and they instantly ran the pull and approved me a minute later. I have had this scenario happen plenty of times. Thawing does not take days and most banks will tell you which one they need frozen if you call in after applying.

CyberUser
CyberUser

I agree. Same boat here. Have had all 3 CRAs locked or frozen for over a year. Most bank account applications never required unfreezing and when I applied for a CC, I always got a pending decision followed by me or them calling to unfreeze a particular CRA to proceed. The sky is not falling and it should work swimmingly. BTW TU and EQ have both allowed credit locks for free for sometime and unlocking with their mobile apps were instant. Only EX required $$$. I welcome this news even though EX did allow the use of a 1-time PIN to temporarily unfreeze your report for free, which I found many more banks this year vs. last year had the option of actually using the 1-time PIN when I gave it to them over the phone.

Tony
Tony

I would still be careful. I locked my Experian and applied for Savor just last month and was denied. Specific reason given was that they couldn’t access my Experian report. Oh well 🙁

Geoff
Geoff

Tony, just unfreeze, call Savor’s Reconsideration line and you’ll be in. Don’t give up! As of Friday 9/26 Experian must have the online option working. Try it then (you and 20 million others, so on second thought you might want to wait till next week, ).

JT
JT

Great plan – except Cap One will deny with a frozen Experian.

J Ro
J Ro

This is great news for all in America!

Abey

Nice!

Stan
Stan

Eager to see any hacks that churners can exploit and monetize.

Dylan
Dylan

I will probably use this to freeze all my credit buearus except the one with the fewest hard pulls, in my case equifax. This way we can sign up for even more credit cards in the future without having to pay for it.

David
David

The problem is some banks only pull one credit bureau… So if that bank ONLY uses Experian, you will be insta-denied. They won’t say “Okay, well then let’s try Transunion.

SOME will – such as the mentioned Capital One – IIRC they pull all 3 credit beauraus, but they will make a ruling for you even if they can only pull one.

Dylan
Dylan

Yes, i am referring to capital one and BofA specifically. With cap one you can just freeze two of your reports and with BofA you can call them and request to pull from another buearu.

Chase also pulled my transunion AND experian report when I applied for my freedom card so in the future i will freeze one of these two buearus to reduce hard pulls.

David
David

Doc fans in general: Since it seems like this will be pretty easy to manipulate (e.g. unfreeze within 1 hour) will you guys be keeping all of yours frozen for the obvious safety measures?

J
J

There’s no reason not to. If you know you’re going to be applying for something, thaw them then wait an hour.

Sa
Sa

That would stop the prescreened offers too. I would like them to keep coming.

David
David

It does? So not only does it not allow hard pulls it doesn’t allow soft pulls?

Dylan
Dylan

My plan is as follows:

1. First pick a credit card to sign up for

2. Find out what buearu said card issuer will use. Find out if they will pull from other buearus if the primary one is frozen. Or if they pull from multiple buearus.

3. Freeze all credit reports except for the one with the lowest number of hard pulls. When you sign up for the card if the bank pulls from multiple buearus then it means fewer hard pulls for you. If the bank will pull a different credit report then it means they get to see the report with the fewest hard pulls.

4. After you get approved/denied fornyour card, unfreeze all frozen reports again.

I plan to freeze my experien and transunion report and apply for capital one cards this way. This means I will get only one hatd pull on my equifax report.

Gadget
Gadget

Am I missing something? As someone just mentioned, Capital One pulls all 3. You will almost certainly be denied if you only have one report open. So, if you want the card, you need to thaw. Otherwise you just get a hard pull and will walk away with nothing.

Another thing – which CRA isn’t always constant. It can depend on the state your in, which product, or whatever else the processors do to QA applications. The Credit Pulls database is full of inaccuracies, old reports, and outliers, for example.

Lingua
Lingua

Just missing that cap one will approve with either trans or experian frozen, so you can get away with 2 pulls vs 3.
Check the rules about cap one post.

Gadget
Gadget

But Dylan said 2 frozen EX & TU, 1 open EQ. Unless Cap One gets tired of all the freezes they are going to run into from now on, that probably won’t work. Assuming they make you reapply in a one report case, you just got another pull anyway.

And, he’s looking at it backwards from what most people would do. But whatever floats your boat I suppose. We will see how it all plays out. I just think there is going to be a learning curve to how well this will work.

Debit
Debit

Finally, the country did something sensible for its citizens against the wishes, and obstacles of the party of the rich people and it’s corrupt leader.

Master Allan
Master Allan

2nd that. I bet there is steam rising out of credit bureau executives’ red heads. An outrageous fee based on exploiting the consumer’s credit information has been shot down. No different than the phone company years ago charging you annually to have an unlisted number in their own phone book.

Gadget
Gadget

Ummm.. you must not have an unlisted home phone. Or, at least they still charge a monthly fee for unlisted in my area. After living 15 years in the same place and same number, I stopped paying the monthly fee two months ago. Depending on the provider, it was a $2-$5 month fee. Got nomorobo now and letting it take care of itself.

jack
jack

No need for your naked partisan remarks.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

That guy got voted out nearly two years ago… 😀

FlyingNinja
FlyingNinja

There is really no point to purchase lifelock membership anymore.

sonia
sonia

they’re gonna go out of business now lol. I always found their commercials annoying 😛

Ryan
Ryan

There never was! Spend an hour setting up fake fraud alerts on your credit reports, or give another company all your personal info and a monthly fee. Lifelock is such a sham, but people fall for it.

millionairenextdoor
millionairenextdoor

Wait, a consumer protection act was actually implemented instead of repealed? Is it April 1st? Great news!

Stryker
Stryker

It’s a great day in America. Pinch yourself before this good news turns into pumpkins.

Viz
Viz

This has nothing to do with CFPB. This is based on the bill S.2155 sponsored by a Republican senator from IN Mike Crapo and signed by Trump back in May. FTC issued guidance and deadlines for implementation. Let’s keep politics out of the discussion board. Just wish people did some research before posting.

Jason
Jason

I was able to freeze all 3 credit reports as of today, 9-18-18.

Ryan Goldstein

Experian is still charging a fee (in Pennsylvania), tried it just now. It should be free as of Friday.

Mike
Mike

Does freezing the credit history affect the ability of cc issuers to give out the free monthly credit scores?

Gadget
Gadget

From what I read, no. Existing creditors can soft pull your credit with the reports frozen. Supposedly you might have trouble setting them up the free ones initially if you have reports frozen. Once Free Credit Scores like CK, FreeCreditScore, and card specific ones are setup, you will continue to get updates. You also do not lose the ability to get pre-screen offers.

Gadget
Gadget

Backing up my statement: Once enrolled, CK continues to work if reports are frozen. Credit card specific scores for current cardholders are going to have even more clout to do soft pulls.

https://help.creditkarma.com/hc/en-us/articles/202041774-I-have-a-security-freeze-on-my-credit-reports-Can-I-still-use-Credit-Karma-

More info about Freezes – Prescreened offers

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs#offers

Michigan info, but most is US wide good info.

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/Credit_Freeze_Fraud_Alert_Credit_Monitoring_602072_7.pdf

Simon
Simon

Thanks for the great news!

A side note to some of the comments about freezing preventing soft pulls for bank accounts: I’ve had mixed experience in the past – I usually keep all 3 reports frozen and unfreeze only when necessary, and for some banks they could do soft pulls just fine when opening checking accounts while other banks requested me to unfreeze reports to give them access. I never opted for overdraft protection and these bank accounts applications all resulted in soft pulls.

Richard Thripp

Now what would be really nice is a system where we can approve or deny requests to access our credit report in real-time, for specific financial institutions and lenders, instead of having to freeze/thaw our credit files manually and make them accessible to everyone during the time the report is thawed, even though we’re just trying to open an account at a particular bank.

raekwon
raekwon

Isn’t that what a credit *alert* is supposed to be? Banks/lenders are supposed to contact you personally when an attempt at a new trade line shows up?

Ann
Ann

Yeah, I think the ideal would be if each bank/CUlender/etc had a preassigned credit-pulling code that they could provide publicly on their website, similar to routing numbers. Then you’d know to plug that code into your frozen credit bureau sites to unlock it for only that one institution for a specified amount of time, before applying for an account/loan/card there.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

I think it would be great to get a text alert on your phone “XYZ Bank wants to pull your EXP/TU/EQ report. Reply YES to allow or NO to deny”

Surely they have the technology to make that happen. Not only would you know in advance who’s trying to pull your credit, you can cut off any attempt at identity theft the moment the crook tries to use it.

gary
gary

the equifax site is now available for free lock /unlock which is fitting as they are the main reason for this

https://www.equifax.com/personal/
at the login screen select lock and unlock youll need to set up an account with them, even if you have an equifax account with them. its a seperate login. They also have an app (iphone) to do the lock called equifax lock and alert

Troll
Troll

This could be useful for keeping your insurance companies from doing hard pulls when it comes time for a premium renewal. They hold inquiries against you from what I’ve read. Even if you have a good FICO score. There is an insurance credit rating that looks at hard pulls. They figure the more hard pulls you have, the more likely you are to process an insurance claim.

Credit
Credit

I never gave my SSN to my insurance company but somehow it has it. It might have been on one of the 80 pages of fine print when i signed.

Banks go through rigorous vetting process calling me in my cell phone, asking background questions and then ask me to email them sensitive documents insecurely. They are just going through the motions of security. They really don’t give a rat’s ass about whether your data is compromised as long as they have done the relevant CYA.

Laws in this land of free are a joke.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

Wait – you think you have to give a company your SSN for them to have it? Ha!

When I worked in credit many moons ago I could put in the vaguest of information and pull a credit report. Only have a person’s first name and the street they live on? No problem, punch in the street name and get a list of everyone who lives on that street, click on the one you want and pull their report.

For anyone with commercial access to credit info that data is incredibly easy to get.

sloebrake
sloebrake

Agreed. The law seems to be TSA-like Security Theater to me. Making it harder for low IQ tryhards, but not stopping anything organized

I got a +20% on my home owners policy renewal recently. I was told the company began using LexisNexis’s insurance score and I was at risk due to high utilization and multiple accounts. Got a letter saying as much, similar format to a credit card application rejection. No hard pulls involved.

Would freezing the big 3 have stopped that? Sagestream, chexsystems, lexisnexis, FICO company, banks etc are all still swapping data about all sorts of things.

Faisal
Faisal

Can someone sends a link for Experian? I am not able to find a Experian page when it shows free credit lock and unlock.

gary
gary

I tried to lock it and they tried to charge me 19.99 monthly after 30 days by bundling it. I have their free account and the link there also tried to upsell and had no free link

Ryan Goldstein

You want to freeze, not lock. Here’s the link to do so: https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze

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