What Does It Mean When Your Credit Is Frozen?

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While the term "frozen credit" can have different meanings, it is most commonly used to describe the locking of your credit report for security purposes. One impact of identity theft is that many states and credit reporting bureaus have given consumers the ability to freeze their credit files to prevent unauthorized access.

How Credit Freeze Works

To freeze your credit reports, you must provide written instructions and personal identification information to the three major reporting bureaus -- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Creditors can't run a check if your file is frozen. This prevents people from attempting to get credit in your name. If you plan to apply for credit, you need to either call and provide a personal identification number to the bureau or submit a request to "thaw" your report temporarily.