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Find the Best Identity Theft Protection Services of 2021
Freezing your credit is a smart idea that helps prevent identity theft. But if you aren’t careful, you could forget the main tool needed to unfreeze it: your PIN. If you’re looking to unfreeze your credit but lost your PIN, don’t fret: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax still make it possible to unfreeze your credit.
Whether you want to unfreeze your credit temporarily or permanently, there are ways to thaw your credit and allow banks and lenders to access your credit history.
Temporary Vs. Permanent Credit Freeze Lift
There are two types of credit freeze lifts:
- Temporary lift. A temporary lift can last between one and 30 days. This option is best if you’re applying for an auto loan, mortgage or credit card, as it provides enough time for banks and lenders to review your credit. With temporary freezes, credit bureaus will automatically put a freeze back on your credit report after the designated time is up.
- Permanent lift. Permanent lifts, with no specified end date, are best when you know your credit report will be checked by multiple entities, such as landlords and utility companies when you relocate. Once you’re all set after your move, be sure to reinstate your credit freeze.
When Is a PIN Necessary to Unfreeze Your Credit?
The need for a PIN to unfreeze your credit depends on the specific credit bureau.
Both Equifax and TransUnion let you unfreeze your credit online without your PIN by entering your account username and password on their websites. While TransUnion requires a PIN to unfreeze your credit over the phone, there may be ways you can unfreeze your credit with Equifax over the phone without a PIN.
Experian is the only credit bureaus that requires a PIN to thaw a credit freeze regardless if you do it online, over the phone or by mail.
How to Unfreeze Credit Without a PIN
All three credit bureaus provide ways to help you lift your credit freeze if you’ve lost your PIN.
With an online myEquifax account, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit without a PIN. If a PIN wasn’t established when you initially placed a freeze on your credit, Equifax won’t require a PIN to unlock your freeze. There are three ways to thaw your credit freeze with Equifax without a PIN:
- Online through myEquifax. Sign into your myEquifax account online using your username and password. Once logged in, you can lift your credit freeze.
- Over the phone. Talk with an Equifax representative by calling 888-298-0045. Once you’ve successfully answered a few basic identity-verification questions, they will be able to unfreeze your credit.
- By mail. Fill out a freeze request form and send it to Equifax. Include copies of documents that confirm your identity, such as a utility bill or driver’s license, and request to unfreeze your credit.
Experian will provide you with or you will create a five- to 10-digit PIN when you freeze your credit. You will need to use this PIN when you want to lift your credit freeze.
If you lose your PIN, use Experian’s online PIN request form to have your PIN sent to you. You should receive your PIN immediately if you provide the correct identity verification information
If you’d rather lift your freeze by phone, or have further questions about thawing your freeze, call Experian at 888-397-3742.
TransUnion requires you to create a six-digit PIN when you place a credit freeze. However, if you want to lift the freeze through your TransUnion online account, you won’t need to use your PIN; you can simply log in to your account using your username and password.
If you’d rather unfreeze your credit over the phone, you will need your PIN. To contact TransUnion directly, call 888-909-8872.
If you lost your PIN, you can set up a new one by logging into your TransUnion account.
Securing Your PIN
Storing your credit bureau PINs is much like storing passwords: keep them only where you can access them. Password managers such as LastPass, 1Password and Bitwarden are excellent choices for keeping your information secure and private. You can also store your PINs in a notes app on your phone, a folder inside your desk or on an external hard drive.
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