(NAPSA)—You may have heard the terms “security freeze”
and “credit report lock.” While they are sometimes used
interchangeably, they aren’t exactly the same. While both are designed
to help you restrict certain access to your credit information, they
do so in different ways.
A credit report lock may allow you to lock and unlock your credit report
online or on a mobile device through an app, using a username and password.
Options to lock your credit report are available from each of the three major
credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
If you’re applying for insurance or credit—buying a car, for example, or applying for a loan—you will need to
unlock your credit report to allow a credit check. Equifax now offers Lock
& Alert, a free service that allows you to quickly lock and unlock
your Equifax credit report online or on your smartphone.
A security freeze is also known as a credit freeze. Placing, lifting or
removing a security freeze can be done online, by phone or by mail. To lift
or remove a security freeze, you will need the PIN you receive when you place
it. Security freezes are subject to regulation by each state. Once a freeze
is placed on your credit reports, it prevents access by certain third
parties, such as lenders or creditors you’re requesting new credit from, and insurance companies when you apply for insurance
If you’re applying for insurance or credit, you’ll need to
temporarily lift or permanently remove your security freeze. A temporary lift
of your freeze can be for a specific period of time or for a specific
Security freezes must be placed separately at each of the three major
credit bureaus. Depending on the state where you live, you may pay a fee at
each credit bureau for placing, lifting or removing a security freeze.
Equifax has waived fees to place, lift or remove security freezes through
Security freezes and credit report locks don’t keep everybody out.
There are exceptions, which may vary by state, as to who can still access
your credit report when it is frozen or locked.
These exceptions may include:
• Companies like Equifax Global Consumer Solutions that provide you
with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file
• Companies you have an existing account or relationship with
• Federal, state and local government agencies
• Collection agencies acting on behalf of companies you owe
• For fraud detection purposes
• Companies that wish to make preapproved
offers of credit or insurance to you
• Companies reviewing your application for employment.