Security Freeze - Protecting your Personal Information
If an identity thief has stolen your personal identifying
information, he or she has access to your financial accounts. In
mere hours, the thief can open new credit accounts or run up charges
on existing accounts. When the bills aren't paid, you are the one
holding the delinquent account, and that will negatively affect
your credit report.
Placing a security freeze on your credit file is one deterrent
against identity theft.
All Oregonians can place a security freeze on their
credit file maintained by the three major national credit reporting
agencies, Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Once activated, someone
who has fraudulently obtained your personal identifying information
would not be able to open new accounts or borrow money. The freeze
also prevents lenders and others from gaining access to your credit
report for review.
Before you freeze
Keep in mind that a security freeze will not prevent an identity
thief from misusing existing credit cards and credit accounts. Click
here for guidance if your credit cards have been stolen.
Before you decide to apply an optional freeze to your credit
files, consider whether you intend to make a purchase that would require a
look at your credit history. 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 to Obtain a Security Freeze
- Depending on the credit reporting agency, you
can request a freeze online, by phone, or by mail. If you request
by mail, we have provided letters for you to use in a convenient
Word fillable format. If you
do not have Word, the letters are also available in a PDF
version for you to print and fill out by hand.
Note: If using the fillable version, fill out and
print all three letters at the same time.
- Allow five business days upon receipt of your
request for the credit reporting agencies to place a security
freeze on your credit file.
- Expect a password or Personal Identification
Number (PIN) in a confirmation letter from each of the credit
reporting agencies, which, by law, must be sent within 10 days
of placing the security freeze.
Keep all documents relating to placing your security
freeze. If you misplace or lose your assigned personal identification
number (PIN), the credit reporting agencies can charge up to $10
to reissue or reassign a new PIN.
Security Freezes for Children
NEW - Effective September 13, 2013, 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($10
to each credit reporting agency). 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
You must contact each credit reporting agency to create the protected
record and place the freeze. At this time you can only request the protected
record and security freeze by mailing the credit reporting agencies. Below
are links to their sites with instructions.
Click "Add a Security Freeze", then click "Place a Security
Freeze on Minor's Credit File"
An Oregon consumer wishing to place a credit freeze
for an individual 16 years of age or younger should mail their request
and required documentation to the following address. There is no
fee for this service in Oregon regardless of whether the minor is
a victim of identity theft or not.
PO Box 380
Woodlyn, PA 19094
must include sufficient proof of authority and sufficient proof
of identification. Sufficient proof of authority includes at least
one of the following:
court order; power of attorney; or written, notarized and signed
description of authority. Sufficient proof of identification includes
at least one of the following for both the individual placing the
freeze and the person for whom the freeze is being placed: proof
of Social Security number (i.e. SSN card); proof of name and address
(driver's license, state of government issued, issued ID card, utility
bill). Also, for minors only: copy of birth certificate.
If you are victim of identity theft or have reported
the theft of your personal identifying information to a law enforcement
agency, there is no fee. To do this, you must submit a valid copy
of a police incident report or a Federal
Trade Commission Identity Theft Complaint Form. Because you
need to submit documents, you only have the option of obtaining
a freeze by mail.
Even if you are not a victim of identity theft,
you can still place a security freeze, but you will need to pay
a $10 fee to each credit reporting agency.
Important note: One security freeze does not
cover everyone in a household. Spouses or partners must freeze their
credit files separately.
Access to Your File under a Freeze
Even if you have a security freeze, some government
agencies, law enforcement and courts, and private companies can
still access your credit files under certain circumstances. These
include companies you are doing business with, companies to which
you owe money, and collection agencies.
"Thawing" the Freeze
Consumers who do place a security freeze on their
credit report can temporarily or permanently remove the freeze or
"thaw" their file to apply for new credit. Credit reporting
agencies must lift a freeze within three business days after receiving
- Follow the procedures in the confirmation letter each
credit reporting agency sent when you first placed your security freeze.
Each agency will charge a fee of $10 to lift the freeze. (No fee will be
charged if you are an identity theft victim or have reported the theft to
- Use the password or PIN to temporarily lift
or permanently remove your security freeze.
- Expect a credit reporting agency to remove or
lift the security freeze within three business days of your request
provided you submit proper identification, your password or PIN,
and payment of any applicable fee.
Note: If you temporarily lift the freeze to apply for new
credit, keep in mind that all merchants and lenders will have access to your
Security Freeze vs. Fraud Alert
A fraud alert is an initial, immediate alert that
stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You can request
an alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have
been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. Placing the
alert means that your credit report will be flagged and that creditors
are required to call you before extending credit. However, unlike
a security freeze, businesses can 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. Thus, the steps potential creditors take to verify
your identity may not always alert them that the applicant is not
A security freeze on your credit report is stronger than
a fraud alert because it prevents anyone from accessing your credit file for
any reason unless you instruct the credit reporting agencies to unfreeze your
For more information about placing a fraud alert, contact
one of the three national credit reporting agencies listed below. You only
need to contact one of the three to place a fraud alert.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com;
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com;
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com;
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790