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LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Do I Lock My Credit?

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Content was accurate at the time of publication.

A credit lock, offered by credit bureaus, is a financial service that prevents your credit from being used. If you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft or see signs of unauthorized credit use, you can lock your credit to prevent others from using your information to open new credit cards or take out loans.

A credit lock is similar to a credit freeze, which is a free service offered by the three major credit bureaus. Credit locks tend to be a premium service at a cost.

Why should I lock my credit?

Scammers sometimes try to use other people’s credit to steal money. If your personal information is compromised and you don’t plan on applying for a loan or opening a new credit card anytime soon, you may want to lock your credit. When your credit is locked, new credit accounts can’t be opened in your name.

Consider locking your credit if:

  • You see that someone opened a credit card in your name. It’s important to monitor your credit regularly to see if there are any major or unexpected changes. You’ll want to lock or freeze your credit if you see that a credit card or any other new credit account has been opened without your consent.
  • You suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft. There are a lot of potential signs of identity theft: unauthorized use of bank accounts, debt collection agency calls for unknown debt or unanticipated rejections on credit applications. If you see any of these signs, you should restrict further access to your credit.
  • Your personal information has been compromised. Suppose you know that your sensitive information has been leaked, hacked or otherwise compromised. In that case, it might be a good idea to lock your credit, even if you haven’t noticed any unusual activity yet.

How do I lock my credit?

You’ll need to contact all three credit bureaus to lock your credit. Simply reaching out to one credit bureau will leave you exposed if your credit remains unlocked and unfrozen at the others. You’ll need personal information like your name, address and some supporting documents to sign up for credit lock services.

Those documents include those that verify your identity. They can be forms of government-issued ID like a driver’s license, birth certificate or passport. You may also need to submit a bank statement, utility bill or something similar to corroborate your identity.

Once you’ve gathered your documents, you’re ready to lock your credit:

  • Equifax Lock & Alert: Unlike the services offered by other credit bureaus, Equifax’s credit lock is free to use. You can lock or freeze your credit report with the tool, and you can easily replace a lock with a freeze or vice versa.
  • Experian CreditLock: You can lock your credit file through Experian CreditLock, which is free for the first week and then $24.99 per month afterwards. Identity theft insurance and advanced credit monitoring services are included in the service.
  • TransUnion Credit Lock Plus: TransUnion and Equifax offer a combined Credit Lock Plus service that costs $29.95 per month and allows you to lock and unlock your reports from both bureaus.

How do I unlock my credit?

Unlocking your credit should be fairly straightforward. When you subscribe to a credit lock service, you’ll be able to lock and unlock your credit reports at your convenience — which is one of the advantages of a credit lock compared with a credit freeze. This is because to freeze and unfreeze your credit, you’ll need to contact each bureau each time.

Pros and cons of a credit lock

Often, you won’t have much of a choice when it comes to restricting access to your credit. But, there are some advantages and disadvantages to locking your credit.


  Restricting identity thieves and other bad actors from opening new credit accounts in your name

  Credit locks are premium services that cost a monthly fee (unlike credit freezes, which are free)

  It’s easy to do once you’ve subscribed (unlike freezing and unfreezing your credit, which can be a more difficult process)

  You can’t open any new credit accounts while your credit is locked

  Some credit lock services offer identity theft insurance and other premium features

  Locking your credit doesn’t necessarily protect you from unauthorized use that’s already happened

Can people access my locked credit report?

Even if you lock or freeze your credit report, some people can still access your credit report when they request one. Here’s who can see a locked credit report:

  • Other credit bureaus or credit monitoring services
  • Government entities, in certain circumstances
  • Companies that have current accounts with you
  • Collection agencies working with those companies
  • Companies that underwrite insurance policies
  • Companies that provide employment, tenant or background screening
  • Companies that authenticate consumer identity for credit
  • Companies that make preapproved credit or insurance offers

Credit lock vs. credit freeze

Sometimes people use the terms “locking your credit” and “freezing your credit” interchangeably, and while there are many similarities between the two processes, there are some key differences, too:

Credit lockCredit freeze
PurposeTo prevent unauthorized credit useTo prevent unauthorized credit use
CostOften a monthly chargeFree
Who can still view your creditExisting creditors, credit monitoring services, certain companies and the governmentExisting creditors, credit monitoring services, certain companies and the government
Additional featuresIdentity theft insuranceNone

You can freeze your child’s credit to prevent scammers from opening accounts with their information. Child identity theft can negatively impact their financial future, so if you see signs of unusual activity, you should freeze their credit. A credit freeze would be effectively the same as a credit lock, but you won’t have to pay for it.

No, you won’t be able to open new credit accounts while your credit is locked. You’ll have to unlock your credit to apply for a loan, mortgage or new credit card.

Credit locks last indefinitely. You can unlock and relock your credit whenever you want, but unless you choose to unlock it, your credit will remain locked.