Since the Equifax breach was announced in early September, it is estimated that the personal information of 143 million Americans (as well as some in Canada and the UK) have been exposed to hackers.  If you heard about this in September, you probably already froze your credit. But what if you didn’t?

          It is not too late to protect yourself from credit fraud. Even though the breach occurred earlier in the year, your information may still be at risk. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to freeze your credit with the three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

          Freezing your credit allows you to seal your credit reports and the only way to access or “thaw” your credit is by a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know. This prevents thieves from establishing new credit in your name even if they already have your personal information. You may still use your credit (such as credit cards) as you did before, you just will need to thaw your credit whenever you need your credit report. And remember, you must freeze your credit with Equifax, Experian, AND TransUnion to completely protect yourself.

          How do you freeze your credit? Below are the ways you can freeze your credit with each company, and the cost required by Washington state (costs vary depending on state).

TransUnion

Freeze your credit: 

  • Cost: Free for victims of identity theft, $10 for non-victims
  • Online: Visit the Credit Freeze page here
  • By phone: 1 (888) 909-8872
  • By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note attachments you must include.
    • Use the following address:
      • TransUnion LLC
      • P.O. Box 2000
      • Chester, PA 19016

Equifax

Freeze your credit:

  • Cost: Free for victims of identity theft, $10 for non-victims
  • Online: Visit this page to freeze your credit with Equifax. Important note: With such high traffic to the website, if you can’t get your request processed, just wait about a week and try again.
  • By phone: 1 (800) 685-1111
  • By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
    • Use the following address:
      • Equifax Security Freeze
      • P.O. Box 105788
      • Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian

Freeze your credit:

  • Cost: Free for identity theft victims, $10 for non-victims
  • Online: Visit the Credit Freeze page here
  • By phone: 1 (888)-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742). When calling, press 2 and then follow prompts for security freeze.
  • By mail: Request your credit freeze by certified mail using this sample letter. Please note the attachments you must include.
    • Use the following address:
      • Experian Security Freeze
      • P.O. Box 9554
      • Allen, TX 75013

           Freezing your credit is an imperative step to protecting yourself from identity theft. Don’t put yourself at risk and wait any longer! Want more information? Visit this Credit Freeze Guide: The best way to protect yourself against identity theft.