Credit Freezes vs. Credit Locks: What’s the Difference and When Should You Use Each One?

Worried that scammers could open credit card accounts or loans in your appoint ? You should be. According to the Federal Trade Commission ’ south 2019 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, 246,000 people reported that scammers opened citation card accounts in their name that class .

That ‘s a big jump of 88 percentage from 2018 .

And when scammers open these accounts ? They can run up purchases in your name, leaving you with credit card debt that shows up on your credit reports. Others might open loans in your name and not pay them back, something that will besides show up on your credit reports and will send your three-digit accredit score plummet .

You can help protect yourself against this form of identity larceny, though, by signing up for either a credit freeze or credit lock of your credit reports. Freezes and locks can help prevent scammers from opening accounts and taking out loans in your diagnose. But they both come with important differences, besides .

A credit freeze is free but is more difficult to undo. Some citation locks may require a fee, but it ’ second typically easier to unlock your credit than it is to unfreeze it .

Which is the right choice for you ? Either will work to provide an excess layer of protective covering from scammers hoping to steal your identity. The choice comes down to money versus convenience .

Comparing credit freezes and credit locks

citation freezes and credit locks have a distribute of similarities. But there are a few important details .


credit freeze

Credit lock
Credit freezes are provided free by the three national credit bureaus of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion

credit lock Cost Credit freezes are provided free by the three national credit agency of Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion TransUnion : release with TransUnion ’ s TrueIdentity credit monitor service. $ 19.95 a calendar month with the TrueIdentity Premium service. You can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate sign up for a recognition lock without enrolling in one of the programs .

Equifax : release

Experian : loose for the first gear 30 days, then $ 19.99 a calendar month to keep the credit lock in seat, after the free trial ends .

What it does
Prevents lenders and other financial institutions from accessing your credit reports unless you unfreeze them.
Also prevents most lenders from accessing your credit reports until you unlock them.
The big differences
A credit freeze is always free. It may take more steps and time to unfreeze your reports.
You must pay to lock your reports with some bureaus. Locking and unlocking your reports, though, is a simpler process.

Credit freezes

What it does Prevents lenders and other fiscal institutions from accessing your credit reports unless you unfreeze them. besides prevents most lenders from accessing your credit reports until you unlock them. The big differences A credit freeze is constantly release. It may take more steps and prison term to unfreeze your reports. You must pay to lock your reports with some chest of drawers. Locking and unlocking your reports, though, is a simple process. It ’ south smart to freeze your credit. When you do, lenders can ’ t entree your credit reports unless you give the three recognition bureaus your permission to unfreeze the reports .

It makes smell, then, to keep your credit reports frozen until you actually need to apply for a mortgage, credit tease, car loan, or other loan. If you don ’ t unfreeze your recognition, lenders won ’ thymine be able to review your citation history, and they won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate approve you for a loan. This can besides help protect you from identity larceny : tied if scammers attempt to take out a lend or open a credit calling card account in your name, their efforts will be thwarted when lenders can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate access your credit reports .

When to use a credit freeze

You should freeze your credit if you believe you ’ ve been the victim of identity larceny or if your personal or fiscal information has been exposed in a datum gap. Freezing your recognition can help keep predators from opening new accounts in your appoint .

But this international relations and security network ’ t the only time you should consider a credit freeze. If you want to help protect yourself from identity larceny, you should keep your credit frozen at all times unless you are actively applying for a newly credit poster or lend. When you are applying for credit or debt, you can unfreeze your credit temporarily .

Make certain, though, that you freeze your credit at all three credit agency .

How to start a credit freeze

You must freeze your accredit at all three credit chest of drawers individually. The chest of drawers will provide you with a PIN that you can use to freeze and unfreeze your credit. Don ’ metric ton lose that number. Note, though, that Equifax no long requires you to enter a personal identification number when freeze or unfreezing your credit .

Experian: You can start your Experian freeze either on-line or by calling the chest of drawers at 888-397-3742.

TransUnion: Start a TransUnion freeze on-line or by calling 888-909-8872 .

Equifax: You can freeze your credit with Equifax on-line or by calling 888-298-0045.

How much does a credit freeze cost? There is never a charge to freeze your credit rating. This is a release service .

How long does a credit freeze last? A credit freeze remains active until you ask the accredit agency to remove it. According to the FTC, if you request that your credit be unfrozen on-line or by phone, the agency must lift your freeze within an hour. many consumers lift freezes temporarily when they are applying for new credit or loans .

How long does it take for a freeze to go into effect? Different states have different regulations regarding security freezes. In California, the credit agency are required to freeze your credit no later than three days after receiving your request. In New Hampshire, the agency must freeze your citation within five business days of receiving your request. In New Jersey, that clock limit is again three days .

Will a credit freeze affect your credit score? A credit freeze will have no impingement on your credit score. It besides won ’ thymine stop you from ordering your rid credit reports from .

Credit locks

A credit rating lock performs the lapp basic function as a freeze : It prevents lenders from accessing your credit reports. This will protect you in case person tries to open a credit tease bill or take out a loan in your name. Again, if lenders can ’ thyroxine entree your credit reports, they can ’ metric ton complete a loan or credit application initiated by a swindler .

The remainder between a credit lock or freeze ? Locks are offered as services by the three national accredit agency of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This means that you might have to pay if you want your recognition locked at all three bureaus .

This is a samara point : Locking your credit rating at only one or two bureaus won ’ t provide you complete protection against identity thieves. You ’ ll motivation to lock your credit rating at all three bureaus to gain this .

credit locks, though, are easier to manage. Once you sign up with the credit chest of drawers, you can access your interlock through a mobile app. You can then cursorily lock or unlock your credit through this app .

When to use a credit lock

As with credit freezes, it makes smell to keep your citation locked whenever you aren ’ metric ton actively applying for a new loan or wrinkle of credit rating. In fact, this process is even easier with a credit lock : the bureaus make it easy to lock and unlock your credit rating cursorily .

How to start a credit lock

You ’ ll need to contact the three credit rating bureaus directly to initiate a credit rating lock .

TransUnion: You can sign up with TransUnion ’ s TrueIdentity service to gain access to credit monitor services and credit locks .

Experian: Sign up for Experian ’ mho credit lock service hera .

Equifax: You can register for Equifax ’ s recognition lock services here .

How much does a credit lock cost? The cost of a accredit lock will vary depending on the citation chest of drawers. Experian provides this avail free for 30 days and then charges $ 19.99 a calendar month after the corner trial ends. Equifax provides this service at no monetary value. You can get your credit locked for detached at TransUnion, excessively, but you ’ ll first have to sign up for the free interpretation of the agency ’ s TrueIdentity credit monitor overhaul. If you sign up for TrueIdentity Premium, which gives you dislodge entree to your credit rating report and credit mark, credit locks are included in the $ 19.95 monthly price. Please keep in mind that the price listed herein is valid as of the date of publication of this article, but is submit to change over clock .

How long does a credit lock last? As with a citation freeze, your credit lock will remain in place until you ask the citation agency to remove it, either temporarily or permanently. For the best protection, keep your citation engage in topographic point until you are ready to apply for a credit poster or loanword. You can then contact the credit agency to temporarily unlock your citation. The difference between a lock and freeze, is that you can manage your credit lock through apps provided by the credit chest of drawers. You can then lock and unlock your credit reports by using identification techniques as passwords, drug user names, touch ID technology, or face ID technical school .

Will a credit lock affect your credit score? Locking your citation will not help or hurt your credit score. You can besides access your dislodge credit reports from flush if you ’ ve locked your credit .

The bottom line

Freezing or locking your credit rating both have the same result : You ’ ll create an supernumerary level of auspices between you and identity thieves. Freezes and locks, though, won ’ metric ton eliminate all cybercrimes. They won ’ thyroxine protect you if a cybercriminal gains access to your accredit poster accounts or bank accounts. These thieves can still drain these accounts and run up charges even if your credit reports are freeze or locked .

The example here ? Freeze or lock your credit. But don ’ t be lulled into a fake common sense of security system. You ’ ll silent need to check your credit card statements and bank accounts to look for fishy charges or withdrawals.

Help protect against identity thieves with credit rating lock

Criminals can steal your identity to open credit cards, bank accounts or utilities in your name. With a one click, Identity Lock lets you lock your TransUnion credit file to help protect against identity thieves from opening accounts in your name .

Learn More

Related Posts