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How To Lock Your Credit With All Three Bureaus

Credit locks are one of the best tools available for protecting your credit file from fraud and errors — but are more complicated than a fraud alert.

Illustration of a credit utilization wheel with a combination lock inside of it

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      What Is a Credit Lock? When Should You Use One? 

      A credit lock is a financial security feature that blocks unauthorized access to your credit reports. When your credit is “locked” lenders can’t access your file — and therefore won’t be able to extend credit in your name until the file is “unlocked.” 

      All three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — offer credit locks to give consumers more control over who can view their credit reports. You can lock your credit reports with just one credit bureau or with all three.

      Pros of a Credit Lock
      Cons of a Credit Lock
      Prevents scammers from damaging your credit score. If your identity has been stolen, you should lock or freeze your credit immediately — before fraudsters ruin your credit score and financial reputation with lenders.
      Some credit locks cost money. For example, Experian doesn’t offer a free credit lock option.
      Gives you more control over your credit files. You can lock and unlock your reports yourself at any time (often with a mobile app). This flexibility makes it more convenient than a security freeze if you need to authorize a legitimate credit check on short notice for an auto loan.
      Can be more complicated than a fraud alert. Locking your credit requires multiple accounts or apps to make sure you’re protected at all three major credit bureaus.
      Provides peace of mind if you are worried about fraud. If you’ve already been the victim of identity theft or recently lost a credit card, a credit lock is a comforting security feature that puts you in control.
      Not ideal if you’re actively applying for new credit. You can't open new credit accounts while your credit is locked, which could cause issues if you need credit in an emergency.

      Before you can lock your credit, you must enroll in a program with each of the credit reporting bureaus. Alternatively, the more secure option is to use a third-party app like Aura that includes certain credit locks as part of its credit monitoring services and identity theft protection features. 

      Credit locks are free with TransUnion and Equifax when using their individual programs — but if you want to lock or unlock both credit reports at once, you’ll need to pay for a service.

      There are no free tools to lock and unlock your Experian credit file. However, all Aura plans include an instant Experian credit lock feature.

      🛡 Protect your personal finances with one-click credit locks, three-bureau monitoring, and more. Aura combines identity and credit protection with digital security, 24/7 support, and up to $5 million in insurance. Try Aura free for 14 days and see why it’s rated #1 by, Forbes, and more.

      How Is a Credit Lock Different From a Credit Freeze or Fraud Alert?

      The terms "credit freeze" and "credit lock" are often used interchangeably. Yet, while they offer similar protections, there are subtle differences. 

      The main difference between a credit lock and a credit freeze or fraud alert is that you can easily turn a credit lock on or off from an app or website.

      In contrast, a credit freeze or fraud alert requires you to contact each of the relevant credit bureaus to “lift” the security measure — which often takes a few business days to go through. 

      Before you choose between a fraud alert, credit freeze, and credit lock, you should understand how each works:

      Credit lock
      Credit freeze
      Fraud alert
      Prevents anyone from accessing your credit file.
      Prevents anyone from accessing your credit file.
      Warns lenders that they should verify your identity before extending new loans or lines of credit.
      Requires an app or enrollment in each credit bureau’s program.
      Requires contacting each credit bureau individually.
      You only have to contact one bureau — legally, that bureau must contact the other two on your behalf.
      Instantly locks and unlocks your credit files.
      Can take upwards of a few days to freeze or unfreeze your credit files.
      Should take place immediately. Lasts for one year (or until you remove it).

      Here are some common scenarios in which you might want to protect your credit, and how to decide which option is best for you:

      • If you’ve been the victim of a data breach or identity theft: Fraudsters don’t need your bank statements to steal your savings — they can exploit you with a few bits of personal information, like your date of birth, address, and Social Security number (SSN). Choose a credit lock (or freeze) to protect your finances while you secure your identity. 
      • If you’re going to be applying for a loan, mortgage, or credit soon: When you're actively shopping around for new credit options, you need a balance of protection without impeding your efforts to apply for loans or credit cards. In this scenario, a fraud alert may be the best choice.
      • If you want peace of mind: A fraud alert offers peace of mind with less hassle for the average consumer. It provides protection without the administrative burden of a credit freeze.
      • You’re close to retirement: Making a freeze request makes sense to protect your credit score in later years, safeguarding against fraud when you are no longer making an income. 
      • If you want flexible control over your credit reports: With a credit lock, you can activate or deactivate the lock online or through a mobile app on your smartphone. 
      • If you travel regularly or live abroad: You may be at greater risk of identity theft or financial fraud if you move around a lot. Placing a temporary credit lock is more convenient than constantly contacting the bureaus to freeze and thaw your accounts. 
      • If you get mail delivered to different addresses: Identity thieves can open lines of credit with stolen physical documents, like stolen utility bills and driver’s licenses. Credit locks can protect you when you know you keep sensitive documents in public places, like a workplace. 

      💡Related: Credit Lock vs. Credit Freeze: Which One Is More Secure?

      How To Lock Your Credit With Equifax

      Equifax offers a free credit lock program called Lock & Alert™. Once you’ve enrolled in the program, you can lock and unlock your Equifax credit file on the associated app or via the Equifax website. 

      An Equifax credit report lock prevents access to your report and stops anyone from opening new credit accounts. If you want to apply for credit, you must unlock your report to allow the lender to make a credit check. 

      You cannot have a freeze and lock on your Equifax credit report at the same time. If you want to switch from one service to another, you must first remove the current lock or freeze. 

      Here’s an overview of Equifax’s credit lock:

      Program Name:
      Equifax Lock & Alert™
      Via the Equifax website or the official Lock & Alert™ mobile app.
      Extra Features:
      Alerts you when your credit file is locked or unlocked.
      You can also gain access to Equifax’s credit lock using ID Watchdog from Equifax.

      💡 Related: How To Protect Your Bank Account From Identity Theft

      How To Lock Your Credit With TransUnion

      TransUnion's credit lock program is called TrueIdentity. Like the other bureau programs, it is free to use and can be switched on and off quickly on a smartphone or computer.

      There are a few additional perks to locking your credit with this option — you can access your TransUnion® credit report, sign up for free monitoring alerts, and get coverage for up to $25,000 in identity theft insurance [*]. 

      TransUnion also offers a premium product — TransUnion Credit Monitoring — that locks your credit reports with both TransUnion and Equifax for $29.95 a month [*]. 

      Here’s an overview of TransUnion’s credit lock:

      Program Name:
      Free. You can add or access your TransUnion credit file at any time.
      You can add a freeze to your credit report by phone or mail.

      Lock your TransUnion report with a single swipe or click.
      Extra Features:
      Receive free alerts about critical credit information changes.

      Get unlimited TransUnion report refreshes.

      Access up to $25,000 in identity theft insurance.
      TransUnion credit locks are also available with some LifeLock plans or by paying for TransUnion's Credit Lock Plus.

      How To Lock Your Credit With Experian

      Experian’s program, CreditLock, is offered as part of a larger service, Experian CreditWorksSM Premium. Whereas the other bureaus offer free services, this credit lock costs $24.99 monthly.

      Experian’s program comes with other perks, like credit monitoring services for all three bureaus and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. Another premium benefit is access to support from a dedicated agent if you become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

      Here’s an overview of Experian’s credit lock:

      Program Name:
      Experian CreditLock (from CreditWorksSM Premium)
      Free for 7 days, then $24.99/month.
      Experian CreditLock lets you log in to your Experian CreditWorks account through any web browser on your desktop or mobile device (or the Experian app).
      Extra Features:
      One-touch CreditLock.

      Up to $1 Million in identity theft insurance.

      Three-bureau credit monitoring.

      You can access your updated credit reports and FICO® scores from all three credit bureaus every 30 days.
      Experian’s one-click CreditLock feature is also included at no additional cost on all Aura plans and on IdentityGuard’s Ultra plan.
      🤔 Is it worth it to pay for Experian’s credit lock through the bureau? Experian is the only credit agency that doesn’t offer a free credit lock program — and its own service is expensive and comes with less features than other options. For more protection, try Aura for free today.

      Who Can Access Your Locked or Frozen Credit Reports?

      After you lock or freeze your credit reports, only authorized entities conducting background checks can access your report.

      For example, card issuers and loan companies need to assess your creditworthiness when you apply for lines of credit, while employers may want to verify your financial reliability for certain job positions. 

      It's important to note that locking or freezing your credit doesn't entirely block access to your credit file and won’t prevent negative information from being added to your credit file. 

      When you place a credit lock, access remains open to the following entities:

      • You can check your credit file, continue accessing credit reports, and get updates on your credit score. 
      • Your current creditors and debt collectors will still have access to your credit file. Financial institutions, like credit unions or payday loan companies, can provide you with a copy of your credit report or credit score upon your request.
      • Mortgage lenders or landlords can review your credit history as part of a rental or mortgage application process.
      • Insurance companies can assess your consumer credit report for underwriting purposes before approving any application for auto or homeowners insurance.
      • Utility companies, such as electric or water providers, may need to verify your financial reputation before they provide new services or adjust your existing contracts.
      • Government agencies, including federal law officers, can view your credit file to conduct background checks for security clearances, court orders, or employment purposes.

      💡 Related: Why Is My Credit Frozen If I Didn’t Freeze It?

      The Bottom Line: You Need More Than a Credit Lock

      A credit lock is important to protect yourself against fraud — but it's not a fool-proof approach.

      Aura is an all-in-one solution that keeps you and your family safe from fraud and identity theft by offering 24/7 credit protection, identity monitoring, and digital security. 

      Here’s how Aura keeps you safe:

      • Three-bureau credit monitoring with the industry’s fastest fraud alerts3. Aura tracks your credit files at all three bureaus and alerts you to any changes, updates, or drops in your credit score faster than any other service. 
      • Bank, investment, and transaction monitoring and alerts. You can catch early signs of fraud by staying on top of your transactions across all accounts — even small withdrawals won’t go unnoticed. 
      • Award-winning identity theft protection with Dark Web monitoring. Aura scans the internet in real-time and alerts you if any of your personal data is circulating on the Dark Web.
      • AI-powered scam and spam protection. By using artificial Intelligence to screen calls and detect spam text messages, Aura stops scammers from getting through to you —, ensuring that you don’t end up on the phone with a con artist.
      • Comprehensive digital security for all of your devices. Aura’s online security suite includes antivirus software, a virtual private network (VPN), a secure password manager, Safe Browsing tools, email aliases, and more.
      • 24/7 White Glove Fraud Resolution support. Recovering from fraud is much easier when you have dedicated U.S.-based 24/7 support to help you manage discussions with impacted banks, vendors, creditors, and government agencies.
      • Up to $5 million in identity theft insurance. All plan members have coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft, such as stolen money, credit cards, and passports.
      Keep your credit, identity, and data safe. Try Aura free for 14 days.
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      Award-winning identity theft protection with AI-powered digital security tools, 24/7 White Glove support, and more. Try Aura for free.

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