TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Is a Credit Freeze?
- How Do I Unfreeze My Credit with the Three Major Credit Bureaus?
- Why Remove a Credit Freeze?
- How Long Does It Take to Unfreeze Credit?
- How Much Does It Cost to Unfreeze Credit Reports?
- Choosing to Temporarily Thaw or Permanently Lift a Credit Freeze
- Unlocking a Credit Freeze: Final Thoughts
- How to Unfreeze Your Credit: FAQs
Regardless of whatever prompted your credit freeze, you may now be interested in how to unfreeze your credit. Admittedly, this process is a bit more complicated than simply taking your credit report out of the freezer and submerging it in cold water, but we’re here to help!
Of course, frozen credit offers many benefits—detailed below—but you may find yourself in a situation in which you must present your credit report. On such occasions, you need to lift the freeze from your credit report. Read on to discover exactly what a credit freeze is, its benefits, and how to remove a credit freeze.
What Is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze, also called a security freeze, prevents malicious actors from opening new accounts under your name. Once applied, only you and the companies with which you have a credit relationship may access your business credit score.
A credit freeze costs nothing and remains in place until you remove it. When frozen, there’s no negative impact on your credit score. Additionally, you can still access your free credit report each year.
Why your credit might be frozen
The most common reason for freezing credit is the prevention of identity theft. If your personal or business information is stolen, it can be used to open new accounts, make fraudulent charges, or otherwise damage your credit score. A credit freeze makes it more difficult for malicious actors to access your credit information, limiting their ability to commit fraud. If you’re concerned about your credit information being vulnerable, the best way to protect yourself is by freezing your credit.
You may also consider freezing your credit if you’ve been the victim of tax or employment fraud. Additionally, freezing your credit prevents other companies from accessing your credit report.
How Do I Unfreeze My Credit with the Three Major Credit Bureaus?
To apply for a merchant account, business loan, or numerous other tools necessary for business success, your credit report must be unfrozen. In order to unfreeze your credit report, you must contact each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. However, you may simply find out which credit bureau your potential creditor or partner uses. By doing so, you only have to lift the credit freeze with their bureau of choice instead of all three.
How to unfreeze an Experian credit report
With Experian’s Freeze Center, you can unfreeze your Experian credit report or set a “thaw” in just a few clicks. You can also unlock a credit freeze with Experian via telephone or mail. Furthermore, parents and guardians can freeze or remove a credit freeze on the file of children under 16 years of age. However, according to Experian, you can only do this by mail.
How to unfreeze a TransUnion credit report
Like Experian, TransUnion offers an online credit freeze center where you can manage credit report freezes. To make changes to a freeze by phone or mail, you must provide the six-digit PIN you choose while creating an account. Online changes do not require your PIN. TransUnion also allows you to manage freezes on minors, spouses, parents, or deceased relatives.
How to unfreeze an Equifax credit report
The quickest way to manage freezes on your Equifax credit report is by heading over to Equifax’s Security Freeze center. Though, you can also remove a credit freeze via phone or mail. Freezing and unfreezing your credit report by phone requires you to prove your identity via answering security questions or confirming a one-time code sent by text message. To unfreeze credit via mail, fill out Equifax’s security freeze request form.
Why Remove a Credit Freeze?
One of the main reasons to remove a credit freeze is because lenders require you to do so. Typically, entrepreneurs attempting to obtain a business line of credit or other business funding must provide their credit report. Because frozen credit reports cannot be accessed, you must first unlock the credit freeze to provide your potential lender with their requested documents.
How Long Does It Take to Unfreeze Credit?
Requests to unlock credit made online or by phone are usually fulfilled by the three major credit bureaus within one hour. Credit management by mail is typically the slowest way to get anything done, and thawing is no exception. However, credit bureaus typically lift a credit freeze within three days of receiving the mailed request.
How Much Does It Cost to Unfreeze Credit Reports?
Unfreezing your credit report is free of charge. However, this was not always the case. In the past, each state charged a different fee for unfreezing credit scores.
Choosing to Temporarily Thaw or Permanently Lift a Credit Freeze
When unlocking a credit freeze, you can choose between a temporary lift or a permanent one.
A temporary lift enables lenders and companies to view your credit reports within the particular date range you set. Upon expiration, the credit freeze is automatically reinstituted. If you’re only unlocking credit to apply for financing, you may opt for a temporary thaw.
Meanwhile, a permanent lift unfreezes your credit for good. Permanent lifts may not be advisable due to the increased credit exposure.
Unlocking a Credit Freeze: Final Thoughts
While frozen credit provides many security benefits, it prevents you from securing business funding, obtaining a merchant account, and acquiring other instruments supporting business growth. All three credit bureaus allow you to unfreeze credit online at no cost in less than an hour, after which you’ll be free to access the tools you need to see your business flourish.
How to Unfreeze Your Credit: FAQs
What is the difference between a credit freeze and a credit lock?
A credit freeze and a credit lock are two methods through which you can block access to your credit reports. Both methods function similarly, but credit freezes are usually free, whereas credit locks are part of a bureau’s paid services.
Do I need to unfreeze my credit with all three agencies?
You can skip unfreezing your credit with all three agencies by asking your potential lender which credit bureau they use and unlocking your credit at their bureau of choice.
How will unfreezing my credit impact my credit score?
Unfreezing your credit doesn’t impact your credit score. However, permanently unfreezing your credit does leave it vulnerable to identity theft, credit fraud, and other credit-damaging events.
How does a credit freeze affect credit scores vs. credit reports?
Freezing your credit report prevents other parties from accessing your sensitive information. By doing so, you also protect your credit score.
What’s the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?
A credit freeze blocks other parties from opening credit in your name. A fraud alert, on the other hand, notifies potential lenders to verify your identity.