How to unfreeze credit
June 6, 2023 7 min read
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. Let’s walk through how you can unfreeze your credit at the three major credit bureaus: Experian®, TransUnion® and Equifax®.
- 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.
- You can “thaw” your credit temporarily, or you can permanently unfreeze your credit once your accounts are secure.
- You have to get in touch with each credit bureau (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) to unfreeze your credit with them.
When to unfreeze credit
You may want to unfreeze your credit when you’re applying for a credit card, a mortgage or other types of loans. If you’re applying for credit, your potential lenders will need to access your credit to make a decision on your application. And they can only do this if your credit reports are unfrozen.
Ways to unfreeze your credit
If you’re looking to unfreeze your credit, you can usually do so either temporarily or permanently.
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 you 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.
Once you’re ready to unfreeze your credit, it may help to think back to how you froze it initially.
Did you do it online? If so, track down your login information and password and any other information you may have used. If you spoke with someone over the phone, try to remember if you had to use a PIN and what that PIN is.
Unlike fraud alerts, which only require you to contact one bureau, you have to get in touch with each credit bureau to unfreeze your credit. Here’s how to do it.
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, 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. According to TransUnion, freezing and unfreezing your credit online or by phone happens in real time. But to be safe, allow up to one hour for the change to take effect.
You can also request to unfreeze your credit by mail. Send requests to:
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. You’ll also need a six-digit PIN to manage a credit freeze by phone or mail. But if you initially froze your credit by phone or mail, you may already have this. So it might help to try to track it down or remember what it was before contacting TransUnion.
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 your form to the address above.
FAQs about unfreezing credit
You may have some additional questions about unfreezing your credit reports. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about unfreezing credit.
Do you need to unfreeze with all three credit bureaus?
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.
How long does it take to unfreeze credit?
Once you have an account registered with that credit agency, 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 for up to three days after the credit bureau receives your request for the change to happen.
How much does it cost to unfreeze credit?
Nothing. None of the three major credit agencies charges a fee to unfreeze or freeze your credit.
How soon can you unfreeze credit after a freeze?
You can unfreeze your credit at any time—even if you just froze it. You just need to send a request to the credit reporting agency online or by phone or mail.
Does a credit freeze end automatically?
In most cases, a credit freeze will last until you request to undo it. But in a few states, credit freezes may expire after seven years.
How do you know if your credit needs to be refrozen?
You can get a sense of whether you may need to refreeze your credit at any point by keeping an eye on your credit reports and scores. You can get free copies of your credit reports once a year from each of the major credit bureaus by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. And you can also get a free TransUnion credit report from CreditWise from Capital One.
CreditWise is a free tool that allows you to monitor your TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 credit score. It also tracks your SSN, scans the dark web, sends you automatic alerts from two credit bureaus and more—all for free.
Unfreezing credit in a nutshell
While freezing your credit may be an effective way to safeguard your personal information, monitoring your credit can also help to make sure your reports aren’t showing any errors or signs of potential fraud.
And if you’re especially concerned about your risk of identity theft, there are even more preventive measures you can take—like these tips to help protect yourself from identity theft.