How to Thaw a Credit Freeze

Have you placed a freeze on your credit report, but now you’re ready to thaw it out and explore new credit opportunities?

In this post, we’ll help you learn how to unfreeze credit reports with ease. But first, let’s review what a credit freeze is and why you’d want to freeze your credit in the first place.

What is a credit freeze?

Also known as a security freeze, a credit freeze is like putting a lock on your credit reports to protect them from unauthorized access. It prevents lenders, creditors, and identity thieves from seeing your credit information without your permission.

Requesting a credit report freeze makes sense if:

  • Your identity has been stolen.
  • You’ve lost your Social Security card.
  • Your personal information was part of a company data breach.
  • You’re planning a major purchase, such as buying a home, and want to preserve a good credit score.
  • You’re a guardian protecting a minor or incapacitated adult.

Think of a credit freeze as a security shield that keeps your sensitive information safe and gives you control over who can view your financial history. Freezing your credit empowers you to take control of your financial well-being, ensuring your credit history remains protected from fraudulent activity.

What’s the difference between a credit freeze and credit lock?

Credit locks and freezes offer a similar layer of security, but there is one key difference: federal law regulates credit freezes and requires that the major credit reporting agencies provide them for free. Credit locks, on the other hand, are optional services offered by the bureaus, meaning that each individual credit agency can charge for them.

In some cases, credit locking may be included as part of a paid credit-monitoring service. Choosing a credit lock makes sense if you already pay for credit monitoring, but in most cases, a credit freeze is the better option.

How long should your credit freeze last?

Credit laws vary by state. Certain states will automatically unfreeze credit after seven years, but in most cases, a credit freeze stays in place until you decide to lift or remove it.

You may decide to maintain a credit freeze indefinitely as a long-term security measure. But if you plan on applying for a loan or credit card anytime soon, you’ll need to unfreeze your credit reports first. You will also need to unfreeze your credit to apply for a new rental agreement, insurance policy, or even a job requiring a background check.

How to unfreeze your credit

First, determine which credit bureau has frozen your credit. Most people who have requested a credit freeze have done so with all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).

Once you know which credit reporting agency to contact, you can unfreeze your credit online, by mail, or over the phone — but the process may vary slightly depending on which bureau you're dealing with. In addition, if you’ve requested a freeze with all three credit bureaus, you must unfreeze your credit reports from each one individually.

How to unfreeze credit with Experian

Unfreezing your credit with Experian is as simple as creating an online account. All you need to do is navigate to Experian’s Freeze Center to toggle off your credit freeze or schedule a temporary thaw for a specific period of time. You can also manage a security freeze in the Experian mobile app.

How to unfreeze credit with Equifax

Equifax also makes it easy to manage and remove security freezes online. If you’re unable to create an online account or prefer to lift your freeze by phone or mail, simply call Equifax Customer Care or download the mail-in form from the self-service webpage.

How to unfreeze credit with TransUnion

TransUnion’s website allows you to manage a credit freeze for yourself or a family member. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that TransUnion does issue a PIN when you place a credit freeze, which you will need to manage your online account. If you’ve lost your PIN or you didn’t initiate your credit freeze online, you will need to request a new PIN through the TransUnion Service Center or customer service line.

How long does it take to unfreeze my credit score?

In most cases, a security freeze ends as soon as you submit the unfreeze request. Keep in mind, however, that requesting to lift a freeze by mail takes longer to process. As such, you should unfreeze your credit online or over the phone if you need immediate access to your credit score and credit reports.

Should I refreeze my credit after unfreezing it?

Whether you decide to refreeze your credit is up to you. If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, for example, you may want to reimplement your credit freeze as soon as the creditor, property manager, or potential employer has run their credit check.

As with any major financial decision, it’s important to do your research and explore available options before requesting or lifting a freeze. Signing up for fraud alerts or a credit monitoring service, reviewing your annual credit reports, and changing your account passwords regularly can go a long way toward avoiding the need for a credit freeze in the first place.

Unfreeze your credit and unlock new credit opportunities

A credit freeze serves as a protective shield, preventing unauthorized access to your credit history and safeguarding your sensitive data. Utilizing your ability to manage access to your credit allows you to control your financial security and better prepare for future credit opportunities.

Are you ready to unfreeze your credit and apply for a personal loan? Even if you’ve had credit issues in the past, Advance America can help! Explore our in-store and online options today.

The Advance America advantage

Since 1997, Advance America has helped millions of hardworking people with a variety of financial solutions including Payday Loans, Online Loans, Installment Loans, Title Loans and Personal Lines of Credit.
157+ million
loans issued
800+ stores
and online loans
25+ years
providing loans