So you’ve frozen your credit. Congratulations! You’ve made it much harder for criminals to open credit accounts under your name.

But you’ve also made it more difficult to do many things—including some you might not realize—that require access to your financial data.

Want to switch cell-phone carriers? That can't happen easily if your credit is frozen. Need to rent a larger apartment for your growing family? That too can be held up if a prospective landlord can't see what's in your credit report.   

More on Credit and the Equifax Breach

Cell-phone carriers and landlords are just some of the legitimate businesses and people that want to know your credit history. Others include insurance companies, cable providers, and utilities, says Samuel Gilford, senior spokesman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government banking regulator.

Prospective employers may also want to see your credit report to gauge how reliable you are in maintaining your finances, he says. All but 11 states permit the use of credit information in employment decisions. Among those limiting its use are California, Illinois, and Maryland.   

So before you move forward with a big purchase, a move, or applying for a new job, you’ll want to consider thawing your credit to give these interested parties temporary access to your credit report. There are a couple of ways to go about it.

The Indefinite Thaw

If you’re planning lots of financial moves without a clear timetable, such as applying for a mortgage, you can simply thaw your credit report indefinitely.

To do this, you need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus either by going online, calling them on the phone, or by mail. The cost of removing a credit freeze indefinitely varies by state and can run from $2 in Alaska to $12 in Iowa per credit agency.

Once you impose the thaw, make sure you monitor your credit report. Creditors now have access to your data, but criminals also have the opportunity to open accounts in your name if your information has been compromised. You may want to enroll in a credit-monitoring program, but be aware that these often carry additional costs.

Once you've resolved all your financial issues, you can lift the thaw, which is free. 

If you have a better idea of your time frame, there are a couple of other ways to manage your credit freeze.

The Temporary Thaw

If you only need to give one creditor access for a specific amount of time, you can impose a temporary thaw. 

The easiest way to do this is online. The credit-reporting agencies have a feature that lets you select a window for when a thaw goes into effect and when it will automatically refreeze.

Costs for temporary thaws vary by state. 

The Just-One-Agency Thaw

You may not have to thaw your report at all three credit bureaus.

If you're just going to do one thing, like order a new phone, sign up for cable, or request some other service, you should check with the provider to find out which credit-monitoring agency it uses.

If it only deals with one, you can just thaw the report with that agency.  

The Best Way to Thaw

The credit bureaus say that thawing a credit freeze, if done online, can happen within a matter of minutes. Calling on the phone or requesting a freeze via snail mail will take longer.

If you're planning to call on the phone, be ready to wait. Matt Schulz, an analyst with, says he's heard that it can be difficult to get through because credit-monitoring bureaus are becoming overwhelmed with people seeking to make changes to their credit-report status in the wake of the Equifax breach.

Whichever way you decide to go about it, you’ll need to use the PIN that was assigned to you when you first froze your credit report. If you forgot it, don’t worry. You can request a new one from the agencies, but you'll have to build in time for that, too.