Credit Freezes and Unfreezes
Do I need to unfreeze all three bureaus whenever applying for credit?
No, unless you are applying for a major loan like a mortgage, you can be selective. Read our page about which bureaus to unfreeze when applying for credit at various banks. Typically, you can unfreeze the primary credit bureau that a bank uses to be approved.
Does my credit need to be unfrozen for a “soft” credit check?
What is a credit freeze and unfreeze?
A credit freeze controls whether a lender can perform a credit check on you or not. It blocks “hard inquiries” completely, which immediately damage your credit score. Freezing your credit prevents both you and a potential identity thief from opening new accounts in your name.
Closed and protected.
When your credit is frozen, you are “closed” from opening new accounts, and more protected from identity theft.
A valid third party may still access a frozen report for collection activities, review of existing accounts, child support collection, and court orders.
Unfreezing is free and only takes a few minutes to do manually. Unfreezing opens your credit report to be accessible to lenders who have a permissible purpose to access it. We recommend you re-freeze your credit immediately after getting approved for your new account.
Open, but Vulnerable
When your credit is unfrozen, you are “open” to apply for new accounts, and much less protected from identity theft.
How long does it take before a freeze/Unfreeze is active?
Typical Processing Times
A few seconds
A few seconds
According to FTC Law
One Business Day
Typically it only takes a few seconds from requesting the freeze/unfreeze online until the bureau activates it. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) technically allows the credit bureaus a full business day to process an online freeze request, and one hour for an online unfreeze request.
Why should I freeze my credit?
Freezing your credit is a free and basic way to protect yourself from major identity theft. You can unfreeze it at any time in a few minutes.
With a credit freeze in place at all three credit bureaus, no lender can perform a credit credit on your files. Since lenders require a credit check to extend a line of credit, a credit freeze prevents any new accounts from opening. If an identity thief had your most sensitive personal information, he or she would be unable to open a new account in your name.
Does a credit freeze affect my credit score?
No, a credit freeze (or unfreeze) does not affect your credit score in any way.
It also does not:
- Prevent applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance.
- Prevent an identity thief stealing and using your existing accounts.
- Prevent you from getting your free annual credit report.
You should still monitor all financial statements for fraudulent transactions. Freezing your credit only protects you against the major identity theft of someone opening a new account in your name.
Will I still be able to use my cards if my credit is frozen?
Yes, your cards will work exactly the same as they did before. If your credit is frozen, then you will be blocked from opening a new credit account. You also won’t be able to request a credit line increase on an existing account with most banks.
That said, you still should monitor all financial statements for fraudulent transactions.
Isn’t it possible to freeze/unfreeze my credit over the phone?
Yes, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit at each bureau via the phone, in addition to by mail. Snowcap.Me only supports freezing and unfreeze via the web, but if you’d like to try the phone-based method, here are the phone numbers to each bureau:
I am a journalist/blogger and want to write about Snowcap.Me – do you have branding assets?
Yes, please contact us and we will provide what you need.
“Snowcap” is a nod to something secure (a mountain) and something cold (snow). We figured there are fun design and branding aspects in mountains and snow instead of a generic name with “credit” in it.