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  • April M Strauss

What Is The Difference Between A “Credit Freeze” and A “Fraud Alert”?

Knowing About These Important Financial Protection Tools Can Save Consumers From a Lot of Headaches in the Event of a Data Breach


hand outstretched holding a credit card

Credit Freezes

A credit freeze the strongest step you can take to prevent fraudulent accounts being opened under your name. A credit freeze prevents a credit bureau from sharing your information with others. You can put a credit freeze in place with each of the three major credit bureaus by using the following links: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Once you authorize a credit freeze, no one will be able to open new credit accounts in your name. You can still use your active credit cards with a freeze in place. It costs nothing to put a credit freeze in place, lasts indefinitely, and will not affect your credit score. However, if your credit card information has been compromised, a credit freeze will not prevent a cyber-thief from making purchases with your stolen card. Cancelling the card and getting a new card with a different number is the only way to stop such transactions from taking place.

Fraud Alerts

You can also place a fraud alert on all of your credit reports. Fraud alerts are free, and are a flag for potential credit providers that you may have been a victim of identity theft. They allow you to apply for new credit cards and other forms of credit without having to unfreeze your account. Fraud alerts can last one to seven years, and can be lifted by you at any time.


Once you put a fraud alert in place at one credit bureau, it will alert the other two for you. You can put a fraud alert in place with any of the three major credit bureaus by using the following links: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.