Credit Freeze FAQs

Title 28, Chapter 52, Idaho Code
Credit Report Protection Act

If you are concerned about the risk of identity theft, Attorney General Wasden encourages you to consider placing a voluntary freeze on your credit reports. Freezing your credit report can substantially reduce the risk that identity thieves will open new credit accounts in your name. This is the most common form of identity theft.

Idaho’s credit freeze law requires credit reporting agencies to place a credit “freeze” on your credit report when you request it. The following FAQs explain the details, process, and effect for requesting a credit freeze. You can also read our Credit and Debt Manual for more information on credit related issues.

What is the purpose of the Credit Report Protection Act?

What is the purpose of a security freeze and how does it differ from a fraud alert?

Who is responsible for freezing my credit report?

When should I request a security freeze?

Does a security freeze hurt your credit score or prevent you from obtaining new credit?

Does it cost anything to obtain a security freeze?

How do I obtain a security freeze?

How soon after receiving my written request must the consumer reporting agency freeze my credit report?

How will I know if the consumer reporting agency freezes my credit report?

What do I do if I lose my personal identification number or password?

What does a consumer reporting agency tell creditors about my credit history when a security freeze is in effect?

What actions can a creditor take if I submit a credit application and the creditor is unable to access my credit report because a security freeze is in effect?

Who is allowed to access my credit report once the security freeze is in effect?

What do I do to lift the security freeze if I want a specific creditor to have access to my credit report?

After I request a temporary lift of the security freeze, how long does the consumer reporting agency have to actually lift the freeze?

How do I remove the security freeze permanently?

Under what circumstances may a consumer reporting agency lawfully take longer than three days (or 15 minutes) to lift the security freeze?

What happens when information in my credit report changes while a security freeze is in effect?

How does the Credit Report Protection Act protect my Social Security number from intentional disclosure?

What action can I take against a consumer reporting agency that violates the Credit Report Protection Act?

What action can a consumer reporting agency take against someone who violates the security freeze statutes?

What authority does the Attorney General have under the Credit Report Protection Act?

What should I do if I believe a person has violated the Credit Report Protection Act?

What is the purpose of the Credit Report Protection Act?

The Act allows you to place a “security freeze” on your credit report and prohibits a person from intentionally releasing your Social Security number to the general public.

What is the purpose of a security freeze and how does it differ from a fraud alert?

Commonly referred to as a “credit freeze,” a security freeze, in most cases, prohibits a consumer reporting agency from giving your credit information to a third-party creditor. A security freeze is more effective than a fraud alert in preventing unauthorized persons from obtaining credit in your name.

A fraud alert is a special message on your credit report that notifies potential creditors that they need to verify your identity before extending credit in your name. Three types of fraud alerts are available: (1) a 90-day initial fraud alert; (2) a seven-year extended fraud alert; and (3) a one-year active duty military alert. A security freeze, on the other hand, remains in effect until you ask the consumer reporting agency to lift it.

The problem with fraud alerts is that a creditor is not required to contact you before extending credit in your name. Therefore, even with a fraud alert in place, identity thieves can still open new accounts and obtain new lines of credit in your name.

Who is responsible for freezing my credit report?

When you properly request a security freeze, consumer reporting agencies, also called credit reporting agencies, must freeze the information in your credit report. Under the law, a “consumer reporting agency” includes any person who, for fees, dues, or on a cooperative basis, assembles or evaluates information concerning a consumer's credit.

When should I request a security freeze?

You may request that a consumer reporting agency place a security freeze on your credit report at any time and for any reason. Requesting a security freeze is particularly important whenever you believe that your personal or financial information has been disclosed to another without your permission. For example, if a business notifies you that it inadvertently released your credit card number to someone without your authorization, you should consider requesting a security freeze.

A freeze helps prevent identity thieves from obtaining credit in your name because most creditors will not extend credit without first reviewing the consumer's credit report. If the creditor is told that a credit report is frozen, it is less likely that the creditor will grant credit to a fraudster.

Does a security freeze hurt your credit score or prevent you from obtaining new credit?

Placing a security freeze on your credit report does not affect your credit score. Despite having a security freeze in effect, you can obtain new credit and get your free annual credit report.

Does it cost anything to obtain a security freeze?

If you are a victim of identity theft, which means someone is using or has used your identity to obtain credit, you can obtain a security freeze without cost. However, you must provide a copy of your filed police report to the credit reporting agencies.

If you are not an identity theft victim and do not have a police report, you must pay a fee of up to $6.00 to each credit reporting agency from which you request a freeze.

How do I obtain a security freeze?

To obtain a security freeze, you must submit a request to each of the three major consumer reporting agencies asking them to place a freeze on your credit report. This can be accomplished by phone, mail, or online. You can contact each of the credit reporting agencies at the phone numbers below for assistance:

Be prepared to provide your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and other personal information to properly place the credit freeze.

If you are an identity theft victim, you must provide the consumer reporting agency with a copy of your police report to place a credit freeze without paying a fee. If you are not a victim of identity theft and do not have a police report, you must pay a fee of up to $6.00 to each credit reporting agency from which you request a freeze.

How soon after receiving my request must the consumer reporting agency freeze my credit report?

The consumer reporting agency must place a security freeze on your credit report within three business days after receiving your request.

How will I know if the consumer reporting agency freezes my credit report?

Within five business days after placing the security freeze, the consumer reporting agency must send you a written confirmation of the security freeze and provide you with a unique personal identification number or password that you can use to request removal of the freeze or to request a temporary lift of the freeze.

What do I do if I lose my personal identification number or password?

You must contact the consumer credit agency and request a new number or password. The consumer reporting agency may charge you up to $10.00 for this service.

What does a consumer reporting agency tell creditors about my credit history when a security freeze is in effect?

A consumer reporting agency may tell creditors who request your credit report that a security freeze is in effect.

What actions can a creditor take if I submit a credit application and the creditor is unable to access my credit report because a security freeze is in effect?

A creditor may treat your credit application as incomplete and deny you credit if the creditor is unable to access your credit report.

Who is allowed to access my credit report once the security freeze is in effect?

The law allows certain third parties to access your credit report while a security freeze is in effect. You should review Idaho Code § 28-52-105 for a complete description of all entities that can access your frozen credit report. Briefly, these third parties include:

  1. Existing creditors, including those who are collecting on a debt;
  2. Anyone who is acting on a court order or subpoena;
  3. A child support enforcement agency;
  4. Federal and state government agencies that investigate Medicaid or Medicare fraud;
  5. State and local government agencies that investigate or collect delinquent taxes;
  6. Law enforcement agencies;
  7. The Idaho Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicles Department;
  8. Anyone who uses a pre-screened list of consumers for purposes of sending out pre-approved credit offers permitted under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1681b(c));
  9. Credit monitoring services that the consumer has purchased;
  10. Anyone who is giving you a copy of your own report or score;
  11. Anyone who uses your credit report for criminal record investigation, tenant screening, employment screening, fraud prevention or detection, or for personal loss history information;
  12. Insurance companies;
  13. Credit information resellers that obtain their information from a credit reporting agency, but who do not maintain a permanent database from which your credit report is produced;
  14. Check services that approve or process checks and electronic fund transfers;
  15. Fraud prevention services that publish fraud reports; and
  16. Deposit account information services that provide information to banks and credit unions for the purpose of evaluating whether a consumer is eligible to open a deposit account.

What do I do to lift the security freeze if I want a specific creditor to have access to my credit report?

If you want to lift the security freeze only temporarily to allow a specific creditor to access your credit report, you must contact the consumer reporting agency that the creditor uses and request that your credit report be unfrozen temporarily. When you contact the consumer reporting agency, you must provide the agency with the following information and fee:

  • Your proper identification and other information sufficient to identify you;
  • Your personal identification number or password;
  • The proper information regarding the third party who is to receive your credit report or the time period for which you want your credit report to be accessible to multiple creditors; and
  • The required fee, which the credit reporting agency determines, but which cannot be more than $6.00.

Consumer reporting agencies are responsible for providing an address, telephone number, facsimile number, or email address that consumers can use to request a temporary lift of a security freeze. All agencies must provide a secure electronic method for consumers to use.

After I request a temporary lift of the security freeze, how long does the consumer reporting agency have to actually lift the freeze?

A consumer reporting agency has three business days from the date on which it receives your request to lift the freeze. If you electronically request a temporary lift, the consumer reporting agency has 15 minutes to lift the security freeze. However, you must submit your request between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., Mountain Time, if you want to take advantage of the 15-minute requirement.

How do I remove the security freeze permanently?

You need to follow the same instructions as outlined for requesting a temporary lift, excluding the payment of a fee. The only difference is that you are requesting that the consumer reporting agency permanently lift the security freeze.

Under what circumstances may a consumer reporting agency lawfully take longer than three days (or 15 minutes) to lift the security freeze?

A consumer reporting agency can disregard the time requirements for lifting a security freeze if any of the following circumstances occur:

  1. An act of God, including fire, earthquake, hurricane, storm or similar natural disaster or phenomenon;
  2. Unauthorized or illegal acts by a third party, including terrorism, sabotage, riot, vandalism, labor strikes or disputes disrupting operations, or similar occurrence;
  3. Operation interruption, including an electrical failure, an unanticipated delay in equipment or replacement part delivery, computer hardware or software failures inhibiting response time, or similar disruptions;
  4. Governmental action, including an emergency order or regulation, a judicial or law enforcement action, or a similar directive;
  5. Regularly scheduled maintenance, during other than normal business hours, of, or updates to, the consumer reporting agency's systems;
  6. Commercially reasonable maintenance of, or repair to, the consumer reporting agency's systems that is unexpected or unscheduled; or
  7. Receipt of a removal request outside of normal business hours.

What happens when information in my credit report changes while a security freeze is in effect?

If a consumer reporting agency changes your name, date of birth, Social Security number, or your address, the agency must notify you of the change within 30 days by sending written notice to both your new and your former addresses.

A consumer reporting agency may make technical changes to the information in your credit report without notifying you of the changes. Examples of technical changes include the addition or subtraction of abbreviations to names and addresses and corrections of numbers or spelling errors.

How does the Credit Report Protection Act protect my Social Security number from intentional disclosure?

The Act prohibits a person from intentionally communicating your Social Security number to the general public. In addition, the Act prohibits state government agencies from employing an inmate in a position that would allow the inmate access to your personal information.

What action can I take against a consumer reporting agency that violates the Credit Report Protection Act?

If a credit reporting agency willfully violates the Credit Report Protection Act, you, as the damaged consumer, can sue the agency for actual damages of not more than $1,000 and for the cost of your reasonable attorney’s fees. Instead of damages, a court may award you punitive damages.

If a credit reporting agency negligently violates the Credit Report Protection Act, you can sue the agency for actual damages and for the cost of your reasonable attorney’s fees.

What action can a consumer reporting agency take against someone who violates the security freeze statutes?

A consumer reporting agency can sue a person who falsely obtains a consumer’s credit report, who falsely requests a security freeze, who falsely requests a temporary lift, or who falsely requests removal of a freeze. The consumer reporting agency can collect the greater of $1,000 or actual damages.

What authority does the Attorney General have under the Credit Report Protection Act?

The Attorney General has authority to enforce the Credit Report Protection Act and has exclusive authority to prosecute a credit reporting agency for violating the 15-minute time requirement for temporarily lifting a security freeze. In a lawsuit against a consumer reporting agency, the Attorney General can request a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for violations concerning a specific consumer. For violations that affect more than one consumer, the Attorney General may recover up to $100,000. In addition to civil penalties, the statute authorizes the Attorney General to seek injunctive relief against the consumer reporting agency to prevent future violations of the law.

What should I do if I believe a person has violated the Credit Report Protection Act?

If you believe that a person has violated the Credit Report Protection Act, you should consult with a private attorney about your legal rights and options. You can also file a consumer complaint with the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.