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Credit Freezes, Credit Locks, and Fraud Alerts

What is a credit freeze?

On September 21, 2018, The Federal Trade Commission introduced a Federal Law which allows consumers who are concerned about identity theft or data breaches to freeze their credit and place one-year fraud alerts for free. A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, restricts access to a consumer’s credit file. The law also allows parents to freeze for free the credit of their children who are under 16. By law, credit bureaus must activate a credit freeze within 1 business day of receiving a request by phone or online, and they must lift a freeze within one hour of receiving a request to do so accompanied by your PIN or password. If you lose your PIN or password, you can request a reset from the respective credit bureau, but the one-hour time requirement will no longer apply. To place a credit freeze on your account, you will need to contact all three nationwide credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Contact info can be found here.

What is a credit lock?

Just like Like a credit freeze, a credit lock blocks all access to your credit report, but you can activate it and disable it instantly via a dedicated smartphone app or secure website. There's no delay when locking your credit file, as well as no delay for unlocking it, as with a credit freeze. Each of the three bureaus offers a credit lock option as part of their Premium subscription services, you can learn more about each of the services in the link below:

What is a fraud alert?

A less severe alternative to credit freezes and credit locks is a free option called a fraud alert. Placing fraud alerts won’t restrict access to your credit file, but will require verification of your identity before any credit application is processed or any new account is opened in your name. Placing a fraud alert at any one of the bureaus automatically triggers alerts at all three bureaus. An initial (temporary) fraud alert, stays on your credit report for one year and then expires. Anyone can add one to their credit report anytime, for any reason. It can be renewed as many times as desired and, like all fraud alerts, can be canceled anytime upon request.

What is right for me?

It really all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. The security feature of a credit lock is the same as those for a credit freeze while a fraud alert is considered less severe. With Cyrus, our experts will help you step-by-step to place any credit freeze, credit lock, or fraud alert and our app will monitor your credit 24/7.
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