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Security Freeze

Credit Freeze ImageArizona’s new security freeze law (Arizona Revised Statute §44-1698) allows a consumer to request that consumer credit reporting agencies place a security freeze on the consumer’s credit report or consumer’s credit score. The credit reporting agency must comply within ten business days of receiving a written request from the consumer and must provide the consumer with a unique ID number or password for the consumer to use to temporarily lift or permanently remove the security freeze.

A security freeze does not apply to numerous entities, including government agencies in matters related to child support or delinquent taxes.


How does a freeze work?
How does a consumer request a freeze?
How long does it take for a security freeze to go into effect?
What if a consumer wants new credit after they've requested a freeze?
How long does it take for a security freeze to be lifted?
What should consumers keep in mind?
How long does a security freeze last? 
Can a creditor see my files if they are frozen? 
Can I order my own credit report if my file is frozen?
Will a freeze lower my credit score?
Do I have to freeze my file with all three consumer reporting agencies?
What are some of the disadvantages of having a security freeze? 
Is a “security freeze” and a “fraud alert” the same thing?


How does a freeze work?

A freeze prevents credit bureaus from releasing credit information without the consumer's express permission. Businesses typically check credit histories before issuing credit or opening new accounts, so a credit freeze will prevent new credit accounts from being opened in the consumer's name until the freeze is removed. This will help prevent others from trying to get credit in their name and protect the consumer from identity theft. When a freeze is in place with a credit bureau, any changes in a consumer's name, date of birth, Social Security number or address must also be confirmed with the consumer by the credit bureau 30 days before the change is posted to their file.

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How does a consumer request a freeze?

To place a freeze in Arizona, you must write to each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Arizona law allows a fee of $5 per consumer reporting agency to place a security freeze. There is also a $5 fee each time you temporarily lift or remove a security freeze. There are no fees if you provide proof that you are a victim of identity theft. To prove you are a victim you must send a valid copy of a police report document your identity theft complaint. If you lose your PIN, you may be charged $5 for a replacement. You should contact each consumer reporting agency for specific instructions on placing a security freeze

Contact information for major Credit Bureaus:

Equifax
(800) 685-1111 

Experian
(800) 290-5195

TransUnion
(888) 909-8872

Mailing addresses for Credit Freeze requests:
(Requests must be sent by Certified Mail)

Equifax Security Freeze
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion Security Freeze
PO 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

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How long does it take for a security freeze to go into effect?

The consumer reporting agency must place the security freeze and send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN or password within ten business days of receiving your request.

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What if a consumer wants new credit after they've requested a freeze?

The law allows consumers to permanently or temporarily remove a security freeze from their credit files and also allow them to have their credit report released to a specific company. For example, a consumer may want to have their credit history available when refinancing their home or shopping for a car. Credit bureaus can charge Arizona consumers $5 each time they temporarily remove a security freeze.

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How long does it take for a security freeze to be lifted?

A credit reporting agency must temporarily lift a security freeze under reasonable circumstances within fifteen (15) minutes if the request is received via the electronic method selected by the agency or by phone during normal business hours. If the request is made by mail, the credit reporting agency has three (3) business days after reciving the consumers request to lift the freeze.

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What should consumers keep in mind?

Consumers should carefully consider whether a credit freeze is right for them and, if necessary, plan ahead to arrange to remove the freeze before seeking a loan or new credit. For instance, while a freeze may offer benefits to the consumer, it may hinder or delay common applications, such as requests for cell phone service. Also, because creditors and issuers of credit often use different credit bureaus, consumers may need to place a freeze on their credit file with each of the major credit bureaus. Although these bureaus generally share information reported to them involving fraud or identity theft, they are not required to do so.

Regardless of whether a consumer has chosen to freeze their credit file, there are steps every consumer should take to protect themselves from identity theft. Tips on safeguarding personal and financial information can be found on the Attorney General's website. Consumers are also reminded that they can get free copies of their credit report online.

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How long does a security freeze last?

A security freeze shall remain in place until you request it be removed.

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Can a creditor see my files if they are frozen?

No. As long as they are not exempted from the freeze by the statute. The only thing a creditor would see is a message or a code indicating that the files have been frozen. Your report can still be released to your existing creditors, to collection agencies acting on their behalf, or to other exempt entities.

An example of other exemptions would be: law enforcement agencies conducting a criminal background check.

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Can I order my own credit report if my file is frozen?

Yes

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Will a freeze lower my credit score?

No. Pre-existing creditors will still be able to report your credit behaviors. A credit freeze may hinder the timeliness for issuing new credit.

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Do I have to freeze my file with all three consumer reporting agencies?

Yes. Different credit issuers may use different consumer reporting agencies. If you want to stop your credit file from being viewed, you must freeze it with Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.

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What are some of the disadvantages of having a security freeze?

You should be aware that using a security freeze to control access to your credit file may delay, interfere with, or prohibit you from acquiring the timely approval of loans, insurance, rental housing, government services, utilities, or other services including instant credit at a point of sale.

If you wish to apply for a new credit account or other credit relationship, and the prospective lender or company needs to access your credit report, you will need to either remove or temporarily lift the Security Freeze.

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Is a “security freeze” and a “fraud alert” the same thing?

No. A fraud alert is a special message on the report that a credit issuer receives when checking a consumer’s credit rating. It tells the credit issuer that there may be fraud involved in the account. A fraud alert can help protect you against identity theft. A fraud alert can also slow down your ability to get new credit. It should not stop you from using your existing credit cards or other accounts. A security freeze means that your credit file cannot be seen by potential creditors, or others accessing your credit, unless you give your consent. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumer’s credit history.

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