I'm wondering about the implications (if any) of applying for a new line of credit while my credit is frozen with the three main reporting agencies.

My understanding is that the new line of credit is very unlikely to be approved, but are there any other considerations I need to be aware of?

  • Will the attempt hurt my credit score?
  • If I request a new line of credit while my credit is frozen, when I unfreeze my credit at some point in the future - can places I've previously applied at then approve my new line of credit without notifying me?
  • Anything else I'm not thinking of?
  • 2
    If your credit is frozen, then why are you applying? Jun 4, 2016 at 20:43
  • 1
    @mhoran_psprep with the tag identify-theft, it probably isn't him applying
    – CQM
    Jun 4, 2016 at 20:46
  • I am confused by the statement: Are there any legal implications of applying when it's not in 'good-faith' (IE - I know I'm going to be rejected, am I breaking a law by trying?) Jun 4, 2016 at 20:50
  • @mhoran_psprep - Why apply? Two situations I can think of. A,) I apply - Lots of companies offer discounts or promotions just for applying for credit, regardless of whether or not you are approved. B.) Someone else applies, fraudulently - If applying for credit while my account is frozen hurts my score, then I still need to actively monitor it for fraudulent activities and report them, even though I've frozen it.
    – Rob P.
    Jun 4, 2016 at 21:07
  • @mhoran_psprep: A store offers 25% off if I apply for their in-store card. I know I can't be approved. So I buy $1,000 worth of items, get $250 off, and laugh all the way to the bank. And I do this at every single place I can find, repeating as frequently as I can. Am I a 'savvy shopper' or am I committing some type of fraud?
    – Rob P.
    Jun 4, 2016 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


I don't know if it would hurt your credit score, although my inclination would be to say no, because I don't think the credit bureaus would count the attempts as actual inquiries the way they would on someone's credit that isn't frozen, but it might send up red flags with the credit bureaus that you would request a freeze on your credit and then apply for credit anyway. I'm not sure what the strategy is here other than maybe trying to score easy discounts with retailers. Seems a bit unethical and almost like fraud in a way, since you already know they can't approve you even if they wanted to.

As for whether or not the stores you previously applied at could open an account for you on their own at some point down the road after you've lifted the credit freeze, the answer is absolutely not. They wouldn't do it anyway without running another credit check, because they have no way of knowing what changes may have occurred in your credit profile between the time of your first application and the lifting of the freeze.

A credit freeze may prevent anyone from opening new accounts under your credit, but it certainly doesn't stop creditors from reporting information on your existing accounts or stop information about public records (such as liens, bankruptcies, etc.) from being added if it needs to be. That being the case, just because you're a good potential credit risk today doesn't mean that will be true a week or a month from now, credit freeze or otherwise.

To run another credit check on you, they would need your express consent. It's possible that a store you've applied at previously might contact you at some point down the road to see if you're still interested in applying for credit, but they can't open an account until and unless you authorize them to.

Hope this helps.

Good luck!


Here is what happens if you were to apply for a line of credit while all of your credit files are frozen. Note here that when I say "frozen," I mean the legislative freeze per the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and I'm talking about how things work in the United States.

The freeze prevents anyone from accessing your file, including yourself, except if:

  • The request contains the appropriate PIN or some equivalent form of validation;
  • In some cases, creditors or entities who have been granted previous access or have an existing relationship with you, are permitted to continue accessing the file (e.g., credit monitoring services).

If access is not granted, no hard inquiries can be made on the file. That's what freezing is intended to do: if an ID thief had previously fraudulently opened up a line of credit under your name, freezing your files prevents future inquiries from impacting your score. Any such application is automatically denied and the reason for denial is flagged as "legislative freeze in place per FCRA." The effect is as if you had never submitted an application in the first place.

If you unfreeze your credit file(s) after the creditor's hard inquiry is made, it is too late: the creditor is not allowed to make a second attempt without your permission; therefore, the answer to your second question is no. Once the result of the initial inquiry shows that the file is frozen, the creditor will typically report to the applicant--you--that the file is frozen, your application is on hold, and in order for it to proceed, you need to provide them with a means to access the file. They will inform you which agency's file was requested, so that you know which file to unfreeze. If you take no action in the time frame that the creditor specifies (e.g., 30 days), then the application is automatically closed and you would have to reapply at a future time; but if so, there is still no impact on your report, because again, no hard inquiries can be made.

Freezing your credit files is something one should consider doing if:

  • You do not anticipate needing to apply for credit (including credit cards, retail cards, personal or auto loans, mortgages, apartment rentals, starting new utility services, new mobile phone providers)
  • You have been a victim of ID theft, suspect you may have been a victim, or have reason to believe you are vulnerable to fraud (e.g., lost your wallet containing your Social Security card and driver's license, which together contain sufficient information to open lines of credit under your name)
  • You do not mind the extra inconvenience and expense of freezing your credit files.

In regard to the chain of comments postulating the scenario where you purposefully apply for credit in order to receive a discount: typically, such discounts require the application actually go through. But even if the creditor offers the discount simply for applying, there is probably some fine print involved on the application form, stating to the effect that by signing the form, you attest that you grant permission for the creditor to access your credit file, and that if this access is denied for any reason, the discount would not apply at the point of sale. And if the creditor/retailer didn't do that, well, it's their loss for being stupid: such an offer would have plenty of people with bad credit fill out applications just to get a discount, knowing they would be denied, let alone those with good credit with legislative freezes in place.

As to whether such behavior constitutes fraud, that is a legal question that depends on what is written on the application you sign. Any failure to catch this sort of scenario on the part of the creditor, while not strictly illegal or fraudulent, is at the very least foolish on their part.

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