Following the massive Equifax breach, many Americans are placing freezes on their credit to prevent hackers and identity thieves from opening new accounts in their names. Not only did I recently discuss the option of freezing your credit but also went ahead and did it myself. In my state, this process cost me a total of $10 (normally $5 per credit bureau but Equifax is currently waiving freeze fees) and only about 15 minutes or so to set up. Then this week I had to navigate another credit question: how do I unfreeze — or “thaw” — my credit?
When we froze our credit in the first place, my wife and I were fairly certain that we wouldn’t need to access it for the foreseeable future. I guess our psychic powers are lacking as, just a couple of weeks later, I was lured by the perks of the new Uber Visa card and decided to apply. This meant I would need to issue temporary lifts on my freezes.
Before I get into the actual thawing process, I wanted to share a site I found helpful. See, just like when setting up a freeze, adding a temporary lift to your credit also costs a few dollars. The problem is that you likely won’t know off hand which bureau a new creditor will pull from. Thankfully that’s what Google is for and I came across a site called Doctor of Credit. Using crowdsourced data broken down by state, I was able to determine that Barclaycard (who’s issuing the Uber Visa) typically pulls your TransUnion report. I ended up thawing both TransUnion and Experian to be safe, but this information definitely came in handy.
Anyway, the thawing process starts off quite similar to the initial freezing process. For TransUnion, you should now have an account to log into to manage your freezes. Once logged in, I was able to select “Add a new lift” and set the dates I wanted my report to be available for. Like with the freeze itself, this cost me $5 in my state.
The process with Experian was similar except there was no login procedure. Instead, the bureau’s freeze center will give you the option to “Remove or lift a freeze.” To do this, you’ll of course need to enter all of your information including your social security number and, again, enter what dates you’d like the lift to be in place. While both TransUnion and Experian were simple to thaw, color me surprised to find Equifax wrought with frustration. After entering all of my information on Equifax’s freeze page, I received an error saying I would need to submit my request in writing (LOL). For the record, I also tried using their automated phone system only to end at the same conclusion. As a result, I forgoed lifting my Equifax freeze both because of the hassle and because, thanks to Doctor of Credit, I knew it was a longshot that Barclay would pull that report.
Equifax’s nonsense aside, it was actually quite easy to thaw my credit with the other two bureaus. Additionally, I was happy to see that WalletHub alerted me when the lift went into effect and when my report was pulled by a new creditor (Credit Karma alerted me to the pull but not the lift itself, so I guess I owe WalletHub another point). However, keep in mind that temporarily thawing your credit will likely cost you a few bucks, so you probably shouldn’t make a habit of doing it all the time. With that said, I highly recommend freezing your credit and protecting yourself in this post-Equifax hack world.