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Frequently Asked Questions
Security Freeze

What is a security freeze?
How can I place a security freeze on my credit file?
How soon is the freeze in place after I request it?
What's the cost of placing a freeze?
I have a letter telling me that my personal identifying information was subject to a breach. Is this sufficient to obtain a free security freeze?
Does placing a freeze cover everyone in my household?
Can I place a freeze to protect my child?
How do I undo the freeze? What is the cost?
Can I apply for new credit with a freeze in place?
Will some companies still be able to review my credit file with the freeze in place?
What message will a potential creditor receive when they check my "frozen" credit files?
Will a "frozen" credit file hurt my credit history?
Do I have to lift the security freeze if I want to increase the limitation on my home equity line at my bank? What about my credit card?
Can I order my own credit report if my file has a freeze?
What is the difference between a security freeze and fraud alert?
How do I contact the three agencies for more information?
What is a security freeze?

At a consumer's request, a security freeze is placed on his or her credit file, also known as a "credit history." This prevents anyone who has fraudulently obtained your personal identifying information (name in combination with Social Security number, Oregon driver license number or identificaton number, or financial account or credit or debit card number along with security or access code or password that would provide access to an account) from opening a new account or borrowing money.

It also, however, prevents legitimate lenders and others from gaining access to a credit report for review. For example, if you plan to buy an item where you will need to obtain new credit, that credit company will need to access your credit files to finalize the sale.

How can I place a security freeze on my credit file?

All Oregon residents may place a freeze by sending a written request to the three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Click here for procedures, details, and sample letters.

How soon is the freeze in place after I request it?

Oregon law requires that each credit agency must place a freeze no later than five business days after receiving the request. After placing the freeze, each bureau will send, in no later than 10 business days, a written confirmation with a unique personal identification number (PIN) or password for the consumer to use.

What's the cost of placing a freeze?

For those who are victims of identity theft, or who have reported the theft to a law enforcement agency, there is no charge provided that you supply each credit agency with the proper information: a copy of the police report or a Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Complaint Form.

If you are not an identity theft victim, you still can place a security freeze, but you may have to pay a fee. Each credit agency will charge $10 to place a security freeze - a total of $30. These fees are in addition to the cost of mailing your request.

I have a letter telling me that my personal identifying information was subject to a breach. Is this sufficient to obtain a free security freeze?

According to the law, a person who is a victim of identity theft is eligible to receive a security freeze at no charge. The documents to demonstrate you are a victim must be either "a copy of a valid police report, incident report, or identity theft declaration." A copy of one of these documents must be mailed with your request for a freeze.

Does placing a freeze cover everyone in my household?

Both spouses or partners must freeze their credit files separately by following the instructions.

Can I place a freeze to protect my child?

Yes. After September 12, 2013, a A parent or legal guardian can create a protected record for their minor child through the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). The parent or legal guardian then can place a security freeze on this record. There is no fee to create the protect record; however, the existing $10 fee to freeze a credit file still applies - each credit reporting agency requires a $10 fee. A freeze on a protective record cannot be temporarily lifted; at the point the child reaches the age of 18, the child can delete the protective record. A protective record cannot be used as the basis of a credit decision, but it can be used for certain background checks. Click here for the credit reporting agencies' contact information Security Freezes for Children

How do I undo the freeze? What is the cost?

You can temporarily lift or permanently "thaw" your freeze by follow the procedures in the confirmation letter each credit reporting agency sent when you first placed your security freeze. By Oregon law, the bureaus must lift the freeze within three business days after receiving your request.

There is a fee to lift the freeze: Each agency will charge $10 for a temporary or permanent lift. Those who are victims of identity theft are exempt from the fee provided they supply the agencies with the proper information. See the cost of placing a freeze above.

If you temporarily lift the freeze to apply for new credit, keep in mind all merchants and lenders will have access to your account.

Can I apply for new credit with a freeze in place?

No. You will not be able to borrow money, obtain instant credit, or get a new credit card until you temporarily lift or permanently remove the freeze. If you need new insurance coverage, or a new employer needs a background check, you also will need to temporarily or permanently lift the freeze.

Will some companies still be able to review my credit file with the freeze in place?

Some government agencies and courts, and private companies still can access your credit file with the freeze in place. These include companies you are currently doing business with, companies you owe money to, and collection agencies.

What message will a potential creditor receive when they check my "frozen" credit files?

The credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) will indicate to the creditor that the file is frozen and, therefore, the creditor will not be able to obtain the information needed to extend new credit. Remember that some companies will still be able to review your credit file even though it is frozen. See the Question/Answer above.

Will a "frozen" credit file hurt my credit history?

No, a freeze will not adversely affect your credit history or score.

Do I have to lift the security freeze if I want to increase the limitation on my home equity line at my bank? What about my credit card?

Because you have an existing relationship with the bank, credit union, or other financial institution that initially established the credit, your bank or financial institution can review your credit file.

Can I order my own credit report if my file has a freeze?

Yes. You can request a free copy of your credit report by going to www.annualcreditreport.com or calling toll-free at 1-877-322-8228. A copy of your credit report is available at no charge from each of the three credit agencies every 12 months. You can also request your credit report by mail by printing the form and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

What is the difference between a security freeze and fraud alert?

A fraud alert is an initial alert that stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You can ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you've been taken in by a "phishing" scam. (Phishing occurs when scam artists steal personal information from you by sending email that claims to be from a legitimate company and says you have a problem with your account.)

Businesses may still check your credit report with a fraud alert in place. Potential creditors must either contact you or use what federal law refers to as "reasonable policies and procedures" to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. However, the steps potential creditors take to verify your identity may not always alert them that the applicant is not you.

A security freeze will prevent potential creditors and other third parties from accessing your credit report at all, unless you lift the freeze or already have a relationship with the company.

How do I contact the three agencies for more information?

Click here to get contact information for TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian to place a security freeze. For more information on identity theft, see the ID theft information prepared by the Department of Consumer and Business Services' Division of Finance and Corporate Securities.