How to unfreeze credit

If you’ve experienced credit card fraud or identity theft, you may know that freezing your credit can help secure your credit information and limit applications for new accounts in your name. 

But what happens when you want to apply for a loan or credit card and you have a freeze on your credit reports? You’ll need to unfreeze your credit so that lenders can access your credit reports. Here’s how you can unfreeze your credit at the three major credit bureaus: Experian®, TransUnion® and Equifax®.

Key takeaways

  • You may need to unfreeze your credit if you’re applying for a new loan or credit card. 
  • You can unfreeze your credit at any time, and there’s no fee to do so.
  • Temporarily unfreezing credit is sometimes called thawing.
  • To thaw or unfreeze your credit, you must reach out separately to each credit bureau. 

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Ways to unfreeze credit

If you’re looking to unfreeze your credit, you can usually do so either temporarily or permanently. Unlike fraud alerts, which only require you to contact one bureau, unfreezing your credit requires you to get in touch with each of the three credit bureaus.

Temporarily unfreeze credit

If you froze your credit because you suspected or knew your personal information had been stolen or misused, then you may only want to unfreeze your credit temporarily. This is known as thawing. To thaw your credit, you can lift your credit freeze for a specific number of days to give lenders enough time to access your credit reports. 

You may schedule a thaw in advance if you know what dates you’ll need your credit freeze to be lifted.

Permanently unfreeze credit

If you froze your accounts as a precaution but think all your accounts are secure, then it may make sense to permanently unfreeze your credit. This could save you the hassle of unfreezing and refreezing your credit when you apply for a loan. Keep in mind that if you decide to freeze your credit again, you’ll have to request a new freeze.

How to unfreeze credit with Experian

To unfreeze your Experian credit file, visit the online Experian credit freeze center or call 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742). Once you have an online account, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit in real time on Experian’s website. 

You can also request to unfreeze your credit by mail. Send requests to:

Experian Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

If you choose to manage a credit freeze by mail, you may have to wait up to three days after your request has been received for the change to take effect. According to Experian, written requests should include your full name, Social Security number (SSN), addresses for the past two years and date of birth; a copy of a government-issued ID card, such as a driver’s license; and a copy of a utility bill or bank statement.

How to unfreeze credit with TransUnion

To unfreeze your TransUnion credit file, visit the online TransUnion credit freeze management page or call 888-909-8872.

You can also request to unfreeze your credit by mail. Send requests to:

TransUnion
P.O. Box 160
Woodlyn, PA 19094

If you choose to manage a credit freeze by mail, you may have to wait up to three days after your request has been received for the change to take effect. 

According to TransUnion, you’ll need to include your name, address and SSN when you send your written request by mail. Previously, you needed a six-digit PIN to manage a credit freeze by phone or mail, but now you simply need to verify your identity by providing your name, date of birth, address and SSN.

How to unfreeze credit with Equifax

To unfreeze your Equifax credit file, visit the online Equifax credit freeze management page or call 888-298-0045. If you choose to unfreeze your credit online, you’ll be able to manage your credit availability in real time from the Equifax website once you have your account registered.

You can also request to unfreeze your credit by mail. But first you’ll need to download the security freeze form from Equifax’s website. Fill it out and send it—with the requested documents listed on the form—to:

Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348-5788

If you choose to manage your credit freeze by mail, you may have to wait up to three days after your request has been received for the change to take effect. And you’ll have to include your name, address, SSN, proof of identity and proof of address when you send in your form.

Unfreezing credit FAQ

You may have some additional questions about unfreezing your credit reports. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about unfreezing credit:

No. Just as it’s possible to freeze your credit reports individually, it’s also possible to unfreeze one report at a time. If you know which bureau’s credit report a prospective lender will be looking at, it may be worth temporarily unfreezing that credit report alone.

You may need to unfreeze or thaw your credit when you’re applying for credit, a loan or a new job. That’s because potential lenders and employers may need to access your credit reports to make lending and hiring decisions.

Once you have an account registered with any of the credit bureaus, you’ll be able to unfreeze your credit online almost instantly. But to be safe, you may need to wait up to an hour for the request to be processed. The timing for unfreezing credit by phone is similar to doing it online.

If you request to unfreeze your credit by mail, you may have to wait up to three days after the credit bureau receives your request for the change to happen.

To unfreeze your credit, you’ll need to verify your identity with the credit bureaus. They’ll require information such as your name, address, date of birth and SSN. If you already have an account, it might be as simple as signing in to your account. 

Unfreezing credit in a nutshell

Freezing your credit is an effective way to help prevent unauthorized accounts from being opened in your name. But if you’re doing things like applying for a credit card, mortgage or car loan, you may need to unfreeze your credit.

You can get free copies of your credit reports from each of the major credit bureaus by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com

And you can access your TransUnion credit report for free by using CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise is a free tool that allows you to monitor credit anytime, without negatively impacting your scores. Plus, CreditWise is available to everyone, even if you’re not a Capital One cardholder.

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