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Security Freeze

Can My Personal Information Change When I Have a Freeze on My Report?

Dear Experian,

We have frozen our credit with you. We just received a notification from our monitoring service saying that there has been a change in the name, Social Security number or address in our credit report. Are we in any danger of identity theft if we have already frozen our credit? How can we check what the change was?

- RRO

Dear RRO,

Changes to the personal information section occur when a creditor reports a change to Experian, such as a new address. This can happen when an identity thief uses your information to open a new account in your name. In most cases, however, changes to the identification information listed on your credit report are not related to fraud. And because your file is frozen, it's not likely that a new credit account was opened in your name without your knowledge or permission.

A Credit Freeze Stops New Lenders From Accessing Your Report

When you apply for new credit, such as a loan or credit card, the lender will often check your credit as part of the application process. When you have a credit freeze in place, it will block new lenders from requesting your credit file to process this new credit application. However, there are some freeze exceptions that allow certain institutions to view your report, such as employers, landlords or leasing companies, law enforcement and businesses with which you have an existing relationship. You may also still see inquiries from prescreened credit offers, since those companies only receive limited information about you in order to send you an offer of credit and are exempt from the freeze.

How Do Changes to My Personal Information Happen?

If you have not opened any new accounts or made any changes to your identification information, it's possible that your existing creditors may have incorrectly updated their files and subsequently reported the changed information, such as a transposed digit in your Social Security number or street address, or a misspelling of your name.

Another potential cause could be that you have moved recently or changed your billing address on an account, both of which could result in a change to the identifying information in your credit history.

What Should I Do if I Receive Notification of a Change?

So many people have routine changes, such as a name or address change, that Experian has no way to know if a change reported by a lender should be questioned. Monitoring services alert you to any and all changes so that you can review them and let the credit reporting companies know if there is a concern.

If you receive an alert unexpectedly, you should request a new copy of your credit report so that you can review it carefully. You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also order your credit report and scores for free anytime directly through Experian. You will be asked to verify your identity, which may require you to send proof documents because of the changes and the fact that your credit history is frozen. Usually, though, you can get your credit report instantly. Checking your own credit report does not have any impact on your credit scores, so you can do so as often as you like.

If you do find information that you believe is related to identity theft or an attempt at credit fraud, you can dispute the information quickly and easily online at Experian's Fraud Center.

Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist