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Credit Reporting Security Freeze: Is It the Right Tool for You?

If you are concerned about identity theft or unauthorized credit lines, consider taking advantage of the protections of the Pennsylvania Security Freeze law. Here we outline some of the factors a Pennsylvania resident should consider when deciding whether to place a security freeze or credit freeze on your credit.

Security Freeze Credit Report

A security freeze (sometimes called a credit freeze report) lets you prevent, in advance, the credit bureaus from disclosing your credit information or report. This is important because in the event an identity thief tries to obtain a credit card in your name, the credit card provider will run a credit report check. If the credit bureau cannot obtain your credit report because it is under a freeze, the unauthorized credit application will likely be denied.

Pennsylvania has enacted a specific credit freeze law. The law provides for you to freeze your credit so that the credit bureaus will refuse to release your credit freeze report or any information from it. This freeze only applies to new credit inquiries occurring after the freeze is effected and made without your authorization. A freeze will not stop your existing credit cards from working.

Under Pennsylvania’s current version of the law, the freeze goes into effect five (5) business days after the credit reporting agency’s receipt of your freeze request. The cost is $10 to each of the three credit reporting agencies, unless you are over 65 or already the victim of identity theft.

After the freeze is effective, you can unlock the freeze either temporarily for certain purposes (such as for a mortgage loan application or a new line of credit), or you can remove it entirely. Therefore, you will need to temporarily unlock the freeze if you are applying for new loan or credit card.

However, you should be aware that a credit freeze can also prevent insurance companies or employers from obtaining your credit data. If you are actively seeking a job or additional insurance, you should be alert to this potential. In those circumstances, you may decide to delay placing a new freeze, or if you already have a freeze, you should temporarily release it for those purposes.

To effectively take any of these actions, you must correspond with all three credit reporting agencies.

Click here for the applicable links to the credit reporting agencies’ freeze sites. Although this information was current as of the date of writing, the links and specific requirements may change, and the current addresses and requirements should be verified. Clicking any of these links will take you to a third party site which is not under our control and we are not responsible for its content.

Experian Security Freeze

Equifax Security Freeze 

Trans Union Security Freeze

© Amy Acheson 2014