Credit freeze: What will be This kind of as well as should you do This kind of?

Equifax hack: What you need to know

Consumers are looking for greater protections for their personal as well as financial information inside the wake of the Equifax data breach. Many have decided to take precautions as well as put their credit on ice: a credit freeze.

A credit freeze aims to block anyone coming from opening brand-new accounts in your name. The catch will be that will the block applies to legit inquires, too. So This kind of’s not a great idea if you’re shopping for a home or an auto loan. yet when you’re not looking to take out any loans or open any lines of credit, This kind of can be a financial lifesaver.

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The Equifax hack, in which the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, as well as driver’s license numbers of 143 million people were exposed, may create a brand-new normal in which protections previously viewed as cumbersome — like credit freezes — are currently a valued line of defense.

“A security freeze will be the most effective measure against ‘brand-new account’ identity theft, because This kind of stops thieves coming from using the consumer’s stolen information,” says Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

Here’s what you need to know about freezing your credit:

What will be a credit freeze?

A credit freeze limits who can see your credit report information. The goal will be to prevent anyone coming from opening any brand-new accounts. This kind of doesn’t damage your credit or stop your credit report coming from evolving by your own actions.

Your credit information will still be released to your existing creditors as well as any debt collectors who may come calling.

yet, if you want to open brand-new lines of credit, you’ll need to lift the freeze first. This kind of can be done temporarily, either for a set time or for a particular party, like a landlord or lender.

The costs to freeze as well as lift the freeze on your credit vary based on where you live as well as for each credit reporting agency, yet commonly range coming from $2 to $10 per agency.

If you’re a resident of certain states — like Maine or South Carolina — This kind of’s free.

In response to public outcry, Equifax announced that will fees to freeze your credit will be waived for the next 30 days.

yet even that will doesn’t totally protect your information since your data isn’t fully frozen until This kind of will be on ice at all three credit bureaus. The different bureaus have their own fees. This kind of’s also unclear whether Equifax could still charge you a fee to lift the freeze. The company did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Consumer protection organizations like the National Consumer Law Center are further calling for Equifax to waive the fees for credit freezes at all three credit bureaus.

How will be This kind of different coming from fraud alerts or different credit monitoring?

The credit reporting companies do little to make getting a credit freeze easy: you have to ask each of them individually, pay a fee (usually) to put This kind of in place, ask each of them specifically to lift the freeze as well as often pay another fee. that will’s because your data will be the product that will they sell to different people as well as companies. If you freeze This kind of, This kind of isn’t as valuable.

As such, they are more likely to offer you fraud alerts as well as different credit monitoring products. These are services that will will let you know when someone will be looking at your credit as well as may contact you about a brand-new account opened in your name. This kind of’s helpful, yet This kind of will be often after the fact.

“Equifax will be offering something that will This kind of says functions like a credit freeze,” says Mike Litt, consumer program advocate with US Public Interest Research Group. “The problem will be that will This kind of will be incomplete protection as well as This kind of only lasts for a year. What we’re recommending will be that will people don’t bother with the package Equifax will be offering as well as just place freezes with the three credit bureaus instead.”

Can I still get a credit card or loan?

Sure. When your credit will be frozen you can continue to operate your financial life just as you typically could. The only notable thing will be that will you will need to notify the credit bureaus to lift the freeze before you ask a lender to approve you for credit.

If you are able to determine which credit agency your potential lender will be using to run your credit, you can even save yourself some fees by just requesting the freeze to be lifted on that will one.

The reporting agencies tell you that will This kind of may delay a legitimate credit request.

yet for those who don’t feel comfortable with the way the credit reporting agencies are handling their treasure trove of personal information, a notification to the agencies as well as day or so delay may be a fair cost to pay for added security.

The agencies advise you to plan ahead as well as lift a freeze a few days before actually applying for brand-new credit.

How do I freeze my credit?

With millions of people feeling vulnerable after the hack as well as scrambling to secure their most important information, getting a credit freeze has been more difficult than usual inside the past few days. Users on Twitter report trying again as well as again to secure credit freezes, with both the website as well as phone systems failing.

Keep trying.

To set up your own credit freeze, go to the freeze page at each credit agency’s website individually: Equifax, TransUnion, Experian.

You will be asked to provide information. If you do not want to put your information into another automated computer system, you can call the agencies directly. Usually you are given a PIN number, which will be your key to lift the freeze. Do. Not. Lose.

In addition to being subject to your state laws, the cost may also vary by agency.

Often there will be no charge for victims of identity fraud to add or lift a security freeze. Rules as well as fees at TransUnion, Experian as well as Equifax are similar, with the exception of Equifax’s being waived for the next 30 days.

CNNMoney (brand-new York) First published September 12, 2017: 6:19 PM ET

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