You may have heard about credit freezes and credit locks. But did you know there are differences between them? Both a credit lock and credit freeze block access to your credit report. They prevent anyone from opening a new account in your name, such as a credit card or loan. Freezing or locking your credit are some of the protection options TransUnion offers to help you manage your credit and safeguard your identity.
So how do you decide whether to freeze or lock? It really depends on your personal preference. Choose the right option for you by learning the differences between credit freeze vs lock:
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is a free and easy way to help protect yourself from identity theft. You can place a freeze online through the TransUnion Service Center with no impact to your credit score. Once you place a freeze, you can unfreeze it at any time.
You can temporarily lift a freeze if you’re planning to apply for credit. Your freeze will go back into effect after the temporary lift expires, which is a nice way to not have to worry about remembering to reset the freeze. You can schedule your lift to start up to 15 days in advance of when you want it to begin. You can schedule it to stay lifted for as long or as short a time as you need. If you wish to unfreeze more than 15 days from today, log in closer to the date when you want your credit report unfrozen.
Locking your credit is a feature available to you when you subscribe to a TransUnion product like TransUnion Credit Monitoring or TrueIdentity. You can lock your credit report two ways at TransUnion: through a free product or a paid credit monitoring service.
TrueIdentity is a free product that allows you to lock and unlock your TransUnion credit report with a simple swipe, and is accessible whenever you need it online. In addition to credit lock, TrueIdentity includes other features like Instant Alerts that are sent if anyone tries to access your credit report. If you’re the one applying for credit, the Instant Alerts provide confirmation and peace of mind. If it’s an imposter applying for credit in your name, the Instant Alert may be the first sign that someone is trying to use your information.
As part of this free product, you also get 24/7 access to your TransUnion credit report and unlimited refreshes, credit alerts when something changes in one of your existing accounts and up to $25,000 in identity theft insurance.
TransUnion Credit Monitoring is our paid premium subscription to help you monitor, understand and protect your credit. On top of the monitoring and Instant Alert features that come with TrueIdentity, you get personalized debt analysis and access to our credit score tools, like CreditCompass™. You will also get unlimited access to an ID theft specialist, have the ability to lock your Equifax report through us, and receive up to $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance.
Please note: If you choose to cancel your subscription with TrueIdentity or TransUnion Credit Monitoring, your credit report will unlock, and you’ll lose the ability to lock your credit report, which is only available through those solutions. You will still be able to take advantage of a credit freeze, which is free and available to all consumers without a subscription product.
Both credit freeze and credit lock let you limit access to your credit report. They block new application inquiries on your credit file, helping protect you from identity theft. So which one should you choose? Ultimately it comes down to your preference.
One difference between credit freeze and a TransUnion credit lock is where you go to manage it. If you have a credit lock through TrueIdentity or TransUnion Credit Monitoring, you’ll log into those product sites to lock or unlock. With credit freeze, you’ll use the TransUnion Service Center or contact our agents on the phone.
In addition to knowing what makes credit freeze vs lock different, it’s important to know their similarities. With both freeze and lock, there are a few exemptions where your report can still be accessed. For example, you won’t be blocked from accessing your own credit report. An insurance company can review your credit report for underwriting purposes, even if it’s locked or frozen. Your existing creditors will be able to review it as well—they may do this to offer you a higher credit limit, for example. Lastly, you’ll still be eligible to receive prescreened offers of credit unless you opt out.
Whatever you decide, the power to manage who accesses your credit report is in your hands. As you work to protect your credit health, remember that you can monitor your credit report on a regular basis. For tips on how to interpret your report, check out our guide on how to read your credit report.