Key takeaways

  • The three major credit bureaus no longer require users to use a PIN when they want to unfreeze their credit reports.
  • If you were never issued a PIN or had a PIN but lost it, you won’t need it to unfreeze your report — although you might be issued a one-time PIN if you call the credit bureau and ask to get your credit report thawed over the phone.
  • Instead, you can unfreeze your credit reports easily by logging into your account for each credit bureau and requesting to unfreeze it.

When you place a credit freeze on an Experian, an Equifax or a TransUnion account, you used to be given a PIN to help you unfreeze your report later. But keeping track of that PIN — and keeping it safe — was not always easy for consumers, which is partly why they’re no longer necessary in most situations. If you were previously issued a PIN but lost it, you should still be able to unfreeze your credit without a problem.

When do you need a PIN to unfreeze your credit?

The three major credit bureaus have changed their policies related to security freezes and PINs. As of 2018, those who are unfreezing their credit reports online through Equifax or TransUnion won’t need a PIN at all. They’ll only need to enter their account usernames and passwords. Experian followed suit a few years later by also introducing the ability to manage credit freezes via account login access instead of with a PIN.

You also won’t need a PIN if you’re unfreezing your reports over the phone or by mail.

How to unfreeze credit without a PIN

Now that none of the three credit bureaus require a PIN to unfreeze your credit reports, the process for doing so is pretty straightforward. Here are the steps for each bureau:


The easiest and most common way to lift your credit freeze will be by going online. You can do so by following these steps:

  1. Log into your myEquifax account
  2. Click on the “Freeze” page under “Identity”
  3. Unfreeze your report

You can also lift your credit freeze in the following ways:

  • Over the phone: Call Equifax at 888-298-0045. A representative will ask you to answer identity-verification questions before lifting your freeze. You can also choose to have them send you a one-time PIN via text.
  • By mail: Send Equifax a freeze request form, along with copies of items that prove your identity (like a driver’s license or utility bill), to place or lift a credit freeze.


Experian still provides PINs to consumers when they first sign up for their online accounts, but they don’t need them to freeze their credit. To freeze your credit online, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Experian account
  2. Go to the Help Center located under your account icon in the top right
  3. Click on “Manage security freeze” under “Quick Actions”
  4. Toggle your credit report from “unfrozen” to “frozen”

You can also navigate directly to the Experian Freeze Center and log into your account from there.

Like Equifax, you can also unfreeze your credit report over the phone or by mail. Here’s how:

  • Over the phone: Call 1-888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) and speak to a representative. They will verify your identity before lifting the credit freeze.
  • By mail: Send Experian your freeze lift request and include information such as your name, date of birth, Social Security Number (SSN), a copy of your ID, your complete addresses for the past two years and a copy of a utility or bank statement.


Like Equifax, TransUnion allows you to create an online account through which you can freeze and unfreeze your credit (you can also download the myTransUnion mobile app). To unfreeze your credit report online, you simply have to:

  1. Log into the TransUnion Service Center
  2. Click on the “Credit Freeze” icon
  3. Remove the credit freeze from your account

To handle this process over the phone or by mail, follow these steps:

  • Over the phone: Call 800-916-8800 and request to have your credit freeze lifted. Once the representative verifies your identity by asking you some questions, you’ll be able to lift the freeze.
  • By mail: Send TransUnion a request to lift your credit freeze. Your letter must include your name, address, SSN, a copy of a document to verify your identity and a copy of a document that verifies your address. The TransUnion Freeze Support Center has more info on the types of documents that are acceptable.

Should you unfreeze your credit temporarily?

If you want to lift a credit freeze on your Equifax, Experian or TransUnion credit reports, you have two options: you can either create a temporary credit freeze lift, which removes the credit freeze for a limited amount of time, or you can thaw your credit permanently.

Many people choose to unfreeze their credit temporarily. This gives banks and lenders enough time to perform credit inquiries — which are essential steps in getting mortgages, car loans and credit cards — without leaving your credit report unfrozen for so long that it could fall into the wrong hands.

A temporary credit thaw also means you don’t have to worry about remembering to re-freeze your credit. After the designated time period ends, the credit bureau will automatically put a freeze back on your credit report. That way, you can unfreeze your credit for a few weeks and know that it will be securely frozen once the time limit is up.

Some people want a more permanent credit thaw. If you’re moving to a new city, for example, everyone from landlords to utility companies might want to check your credit history. This process could go on for a few months, so you might decide to unfreeze your credit long-term. Just remember to re-freeze your credit once you’re settled in.

The bottom line

None of the three major credit bureaus require PINs to freeze or unfreeze credit reports anymore. If you didn’t get a PIN when you froze your credit report, you won’t get one when you go to unfreeze it. But if you call a credit bureau, however, a phone representative might ask to send you a one-time PIN in order to verify your identity.

To unfreeze your credit reports otherwise, it’s easiest to simply go online and do so through your account.