In response to our recent article regarding the Equifax security hack, many individuals have acted to put safeguards in place, but may be left wondering, “What do I do now?”
If you placed a security freeze, you’ve completed the most important step. You’ve blocked anyone from accessing your credit information or opening accounts with your personal information. This is important in preventing identity theft. If you need to buy a car, refinance a house or open a new credit card, you must temporarily “lift” the freeze at all three agencies. Companies are required to lift the freeze within three days of your phone call, so plan accordingly. Temporarily lifting the freeze is different from removing the freeze completely. When you call, you must have the PIN number that was given to you (via phone/email/mail) when the freeze was implemented.
If you haven’t placed a security freeze, but would like to do so, here is the contact information again:
Equifax – 1.800.349.9960 or www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/
Experian – 1.888.397.3742 or www.experian.com/freeze
TransUnion – 1.888.909.8872 or www.transunion.com/freeze
Please note, due to the overwhelming number of people trying to contact the three credit bureaus, you may have difficulty getting a freeze placed. We experienced this ourselves, and learned that it may take more than one call or online visit to get a freeze put on your report.
If you’re uncomfortable with freezing your credit report, or know you may need it to be accessed in the near future, you should, at the very least, request placement of a fraud alert on your credit report. This will remain in place for at least 90 days. It is renewable.
A good next step for everyone is to request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the credit bureaus to check for any errors and get them corrected if found.
Finally, in addition to the security freeze and fraud alert options, Equifax offers free enrollment in their TrustedID Premier program. If you choose to enroll, you will receive complimentary service for one year starting on the date of your subscription activation. This program allows you to lock your credit report, provides monitoring of all three bureaus’ credit reports, Internet scanning for your Social Security number and identity theft insurance. The choice to enroll in this program is entirely yours, but you should keep in mind that we are all vulnerable to identity theft and will remain so even after the free program expires. This is why we strongly recommend placing a security freeze on your report.
Identity theft is a major problem, with over 15.4 million victims in the U.S. in 2017*. Our goal is to make you aware of ways you can protect your personal information moving forward. As always, if you have any questions we would be happy to answer them.
*2017 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research