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're 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 a credit reporting agency such as 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.
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.
Procedure 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 should misplace or lose your assigned personal identification
number or PIN, the credit reporting agencies can charge up to $10 to
reissue or reassign a new PIN.
By phone: 1-800-680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
By Phone: 1-888- 298-0045 between the hours
of 9 AM - 5 PM Monday through Friday in the
consumer's time zone.
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
By Phone: 1 888 EXPERIAN
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
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 may still
place a security freeze, but you will need to pay a $10 fee to each credit
Important note: one security freeze does not cover everyone
in a household. Spouses or partners must freeze their credit files separately
by sending letters requesting the freeze.
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.
Procedure - "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 your request.
- 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
- 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
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 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. Thus, the steps potential creditors take to verify your identity may
not always alert them that the applicant is not you.
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