A credit freeze blocks credit bureaus from sharing your credit reports with lenders, and lenders won’t open new accounts when they cannot access these reports. Starting September 21, 2018 it will be free to freeze or unfreeze your credit reports under a new federal rule. Previously, each of the three major credit bureaus-Equifax, Experian and Transunion-charged a fee. Check each of the bureaus’ website for instructions on how to freeze and thaw your reports. Freezing is different from credit monitoring since credit monitoring can only tell you that an identity thief is trying to open an account in your name. Only a credit freeze can actually prevent that from happening.