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Easy Steps To Quickly Unfreeze Your Credit [All 3 Credit Bureaus]

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Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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When you freeze your credit, you restrict access to your credit report by potential creditors and lenders. Unfreezing your credit lifts this restriction and allows access to your credit report again. 

There’s a simple process to follow to freeze or unfreeze your credit — all it takes is logging in online or making a phone call to unfreeze your credit and open access to your credit reports either temporarily or permanently.

There’s no cost associated with unfreezing your credit reports, and if you make your requests online or by phone, the credit bureaus have to unfreeze your credit report within an hour, so you can count on speedy service.

Read on to learn the steps required to unfreeze your credit with each of the major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — and find out when it’s a good idea to unfreeze your credit.

What Does It Mean To Unfreeze Your Credit?

You can unfreeze your credit by contacting the credit bureaus and requesting to lift the freeze temporarily or permanently. Lenders and creditors can access your credit report and use it to make decisions about lending you money, extending credit, or offering you other financial services once your credit is unfrozen.

It’s a good idea to unfreeze your credit when applying for a new credit product, such as a credit card or loan.

Hot Tip:

While a credit freeze can help protect your credit from fraud and identity theft, it does not prevent all types of fraud, such as the type that involves existing accounts. 

How Can You Unfreeze Your Credit?

You’ll need to contact each of the 3 major credit bureaus where your credit is frozen, including Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to unfreeze your credit.

Follow these steps to unfreeze your credit:

  1. Contact the Credit Bureau: Visit the website of the credit bureau you need to unfreeze your credit with and look for their “freeze” or “security freeze” page. You may also be able to unfreeze your credit by phone or by mail. 
  2. Verify Your Identity: You must provide your personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number, to confirm your identity. You may also need to provide a PIN or password you created when you froze your credit.
  3. Request an Unfreeze: Once your identity has been verified, you can request that your credit report be unfrozen. You may be given the option to unfreeze your credit temporarily or permanently. If you choose a temporary unfreeze, specify the length of time for which you want the freeze to be lifted.
  4. Confirm the Unfreeze: After you have made the request, the credit bureau will send you confirmation via email or mail and your credit will be unfrozen. You can then apply for credit, loans, or any other services that require access to your credit report.

There are no fees associated with freezing and unfreezing your credit, though you may pay fees to lock or unlock your credit, which is a different process than freezing. 

Hot Tip:

If you have lost the PIN needed to unfreeze your credit, you can still unfreeze your credit, but it may take longer and will require additional verification steps. Contact the credit bureau and answer security questions or provide additional documentation to confirm your identity and get a new PIN and then unfreeze your credit report.

How Long Does It Take To Unfreeze Credit?

You can unfreeze your credit report within an hour, depending on what method you use.

If you request to unfreeze your credit online or by phone, the credit bureaus must legally lift the freeze within an hour of receiving the request. But if you request by mail, the requirement extends to lifting the freeze within 3 business days of receiving the notice — so it’s 3 business days plus the time it takes to get the request through the mail.

As long as you make your credit unfreeze request on the phone or online, you can be confident that potential creditors can access your credit report. You could unfreeze your credit, submit an application, and freeze your credit again after approval, all on the same day.

Still, it’s a good idea to mention to the creditor that you recently unfroze your credit so they can let you know if it’s still frozen when they pull your credit report.

Is a Credit Freeze the Same as a Credit Lock?

steel bank vault door
Credit locks limit access to your credit report like credit freezes. Image Credit: EA09 Studio on Adobe Stock

Credit freezes and credit locks both restrict access to your credit reports but they are not the same

A free credit freeze limits access to your credit report, so creditors usually can’t see your credit information until you unfreeze it. 

A credit lock also limits access to your credit report but may require a fee. You can typically lock and unlock your credit immediately online or through a mobile app. A credit bureau’s credit lock service may come bundled with other services, such as alerts and identity theft insurance.

While both credit freezes and credit locks achieve the same goal of minimizing access to your credit report and lowering your risk of fraudulent accounts opened in your name, a credit freeze is free and is governed by federal law. With a credit lock, your credit report is restricted under a service agreement with the credit bureau, which doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll get error-free service.

Credit locks have an advantage with immediate unlocking and locking of your credit. Still, you can expect service within an hour if you request a credit freeze and unfreeze over the phone or online.

Unfreezing Your Equifax Credit Report

If you’ve placed a freeze on your Equifax credit report and need to unfreeze it, there are several ways to do so. You can unfreeze your Equifax credit report online, by phone, or by mail. The process is simple, but the time it takes to unfreeze your report may vary depending on your chosen method. 

How Long Does an Equifax Credit Freeze Last?

An Equifax credit freeze can last indefinitely. Once you place a credit freeze on your Equifax credit report, it will remain in place until you request it to be lifted.

If you want to temporarily lift the freeze to apply for credit or allow a background check, you can contact Equifax. You can also choose to permanently lift the freeze if you no longer need it.

How To Unfreeze an Equifax Credit Report

To unfreeze an Equifax credit report, you must contact Equifax. Follow these steps to unfreeze your Equifax credit report:

  1. Go to the Equifax Security Freeze website.
  2. Once you’re logged in, select Manage Credit Freeze from the menu.
  3. Next, select Remove or Lift a Freeze from the options.
  4. Equifax will ask you to provide some personal information to verify your identity. This may include your name, Social Security number, birth date, and address.
  5. You can choose to lift the freeze temporarily, or you can choose to remove it permanently.
  6. Once you’ve made your selections, review your request to ensure everything is correct. Then, click Submit to confirm your request.
  7. Equifax will send you an email or letter once your freeze has been lifted. 

Equifax Credit Freeze Phone Number

You can call Equifax to place or lift a credit freeze or for any other credit-related inquiries at 888-378-4329. You’ll be prompted to enter your personal information to verify your identity before you can speak to a representative. The Equifax customer service phone line is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday.

Equifax Security Freeze vs. Credit Lock

An Equifax credit report lock and credit freeze are similar in restricting access to your credit report. However, there are some key differences.

A credit freeze is a free credit protection option that prevents anyone, including new lenders and creditors, from accessing your credit report without your permission. If you want to apply for credit or allow a background check, your credit freeze must be lifted temporarily or permanently.

A credit report lock lets you control who can access your credit report in real time. You can lock and unlock your credit report at any time through Equifax’s Lock & Alert mobile app (iOS, Android) or Lock & Alert website. If you need to apply for credit or authorize a background check, you can temporarily unlock your credit report and lock it again when you’re done. Equifax’s credit lock service offers alerts each time your Equifax credit report is locked and unlocked.

Another difference is that a credit freeze is governed by federal law. An Equifax credit report lock is a product of Equifax and is not subject to federal regulations. 

Both an Equifax credit freeze and credit lock are free. 

Hot Tip:

Learn about checking your Equifax credit report in our ultimate guide to Equifax.

Unfreezing Your Experian Credit Report

Experian Free Credit Report
Unfreezing your credit opens access to your credit for potential creditors. Image Credit: Experian

You can unfreeze your Experian credit report online, by phone, or by mail. When you unfreeze your Experian credit report by phone or online, it takes less than an hour. If you make the request by mail, it could take up to 3 business days from receipt of the request.

How Long Does an Experian Credit Freeze Last?

An Experian credit freeze can last indefinitely until you request it to be lifted. If you want to unfreeze your credit temporarily to apply for credit or loans, you can request a temporary lift of the freeze that will remain in effect for a specific period. Your credit report will be frozen again automatically after the period elapses. 

You can also request a permanent credit unfreeze by contacting Experian.

How To Unfreeze an Experian Credit Report

Follow these steps to remove an Experian credit freeze:

  1. Go to the Experian credit freeze website and sign in to your account. You can also call Experian’s customer service line at 888-397-3742.
  2. Provide your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number to verify your identity.
  3. Indicate that you want to lift the credit freeze from your Experian credit report.
  4. Indicate the length of time for which you want the credit freeze to be lifted if you want to lift the freeze temporarily. You can specify if you want to remove the freeze permanently.
  5. Confirm your request to lift the credit freeze with Experian.

Once Experian receives your request, the credit bureau will lift the credit freeze from your credit report. This will allow creditors and lenders to access your credit report again when you apply for credit, loans, or other financial services.

Experian Credit Freeze Phone Number

The Experian credit freeze phone number is 888-397-3742. You can call this number to place a credit freeze on your Experian credit report, lift or remove a credit freeze, or get more information about Experian’s security freeze process.

Customer service representatives are available Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST. Be prepared to provide your personal information to verify your identity, including your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.

Experian Security Freeze vs. Credit Lock

An Experian security freeze and an Experian credit lock are both designed to protect your credit report from unauthorized access, but they work slightly differently.

A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report by blocking most creditors and lenders from accessing it. This means that if someone tries to apply for credit or loans in your name, the creditor or lender will be unable to access your credit report and will likely reject the application.

Like an Experian credit freeze, a credit lock allows you to control who can access your credit report. You can enable or disable your Experian credit lock instantly using Experian’s mobile app (iOS, Android) or the secure Experian CreditLock website. 

Experian’s credit lock service is part of a paid premium subscription service that includes monthly access to credit reports from all 3 bureaus, alerts for new credit activity, up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, and Experian phone assistance for credit and fraud resolution. 

A credit freeze and a credit lock are both useful tools for protecting your credit report from identity theft and fraud. A credit freeze is free and federally regulated, while an Experian credit lock is a paid service that instantly turns the lock on or off and comes with additional features.

Hot Tip:

Our ultimate guide to Experian explains how to check your Experian credit report and more.

Unfreezing Your TransUnion Credit Report

You can unfreeze your TransUnion credit report online, by phone, or by mail. Unfreezing your credit report allows you to grant access to your credit information to potential lenders, landlords, or other parties who need to check your credit history.

How Long Does a TransUnion Credit Freeze Last?

A TransUnion credit freeze can last until you lift or remove it, so a credit freeze with TransUnion can be in place indefinitely until you take action.

If you want to temporarily lift the freeze to apply for credit, you can request a temporary lift for a specific period.

If you want to remove the credit freeze permanently, you can do so at any time by contacting TransUnion by phone, mail, or online.

How To Unfreeze Your TransUnion Credit Report

To unfreeze your TransUnion credit report, you can follow these steps:

  1. Go to the TransUnion Credit Freeze website and click Unfreeze (this may require you to log into your account).
  2. Indicate the timeframe and purpose for the lift, such as applying for a new credit card, renting a new apartment, or applying for a new job.
  3. Confirm your request to lift the credit freeze with TransUnion.

Once TransUnion receives your request, it will be processed, and your credit freeze will be lifted for the specified time and purpose. After the specified timeframe has passed, the credit freeze will automatically be reinstated unless you request to lift it again or request permanent removal of the freeze.

TransUnion Credit Freeze Phone Number

You can contact TransUnion’s customer service at 888-909-8872 to request a credit freeze or to lift or remove a credit freeze. Phone hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Your identity will be verified before submitting your request, so be prepared to provide your personal information when you call.

TransUnion Security Freeze vs. Credit Lock

TransUnion offers both a credit lock and a credit freeze.

With a credit lock, you can lock and unlock your credit report as often as you want using its TransUnion: Credit Monitoring mobile app (iOS, Android) or through its TrueIdentity product, which offers free monitoring, alerts, and up to $25,000 in identity theft insurance.

With a credit freeze, you must contact the credit bureau online, by phone, or mail to request a freeze or unfreeze. 

Hot Tip:

Read our ultimate guide to TransUnion for information on checking your TransUnion credit report and more.

Final Thoughts

It’s a good idea to protect your credit with a credit freeze, and it’s easy — and fast — to unfreeze your credit online or over the phone. You can temporarily unfreeze your credit when you need to apply for a credit card, a loan, or otherwise use your credit, then freeze it again once you’re done.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I quickly unfreeze my credit?

To quickly unfreeze your credit, you can use the online portals of the credit bureaus where you can lift the freeze instantly or within an hour. Alternatively, you can call the credit bureau’s phone number to unfreeze your credit, which may be a longer process but should still unfreeze your credit within an hour. Make sure to have your PIN or other identifying information ready when unfreezing your credit.

Can you unfreeze your credit over the phone?

Yes, you can unfreeze credit over the phone by calling the credit bureaus’ phone numbers and providing the necessary identifying information. The process typically involves answering security questions to verify your identity before the freeze is lifted.

How do I remove a credit freeze online?

To remove a credit freeze online, first log in to your account on the credit bureau website where you placed the freeze. Navigate to the section that pertains to credit freezes and select the option to remove or lift the freeze. Confirm the removal by providing any necessary information, such as your PIN or identifying information, and wait for confirmation from the credit bureau.

Does Experian credit freeze work?

Yes, Experian credit freeze works as a security feature to prevent unauthorized access to your credit report. Placing a freeze on your Experian credit report can make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts or take out loans in your name. However, a credit freeze does not prevent all forms of identity theft, so monitoring your accounts and credit reports is important.

How do I unfreeze my Equifax credit by phone?

To unfreeze your Equifax credit by phone, call the Equifax customer service number 800-349-9960. Follow the prompts to select the option for lifting a credit freeze and enter the necessary information, such as your Social Security number. Once you provide the required information, Equifax will process your request and lift the freeze within an hour.

Is a credit freeze harmful to a credit report?

No, a credit freeze is not harmful to your credit report. It does not affect your credit score or credit history in any way. However, it can temporarily prevent access to your credit report by lenders or other third parties, which may be inconvenient if you need to apply for credit or loans.

How long do credit freezes last?

Credit freezes can last indefinitely, but you can lift them temporarily or permanently at any time. They will remain in place if you do not lift the freezes until you request their removal.

Does it cost money to unfreeze your credit?

Unfreezing your credit is always free. There may be a cost associated with a credit lock or unlock.

Is freezing your credit the same as locking it?

Freezing your credit and locking your credit are similar in that they both restrict access to your credit report. However, there are some differences. A credit freeze is a more comprehensive option that requires you to unfreeze your credit when you want to apply for credit or loans, while a credit lock is a more flexible option that allows you to easily lock and unlock your credit as needed. Additionally, credit locks may come with additional features such as credit monitoring and alerts.

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About Jessica Merritt

A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.

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