Freeze your credit in response to Equifax hack

Equifax announced they were hacked. Equifax first learned of the breach in late July but announced the issue affecting as many as 143 million people on Thursday evenin, Sept. 8. Some of the main ingredients for identity theft—including Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and driver’s license data—were compromised in the hack. Some credit card information was also put at risk.

Here is the recommendation: Freeze your credit at the three bureaus

How a Security Freeze Works – Your credit report contains information about your payment patterns that creditors and lenders use to make credit decisions about you. When you freeze your credit report, creditors and lenders can’t pull your credit report or credit score – the numeric value given to you credit report – unless you’ve provided the credit bureau a password to unlock your credit report. Since most banks require a credit check, an application for credit would likely be denied. You can freeze your credit report at all three major credit bureaus, but it must be done individually.

The security freeze isn’t completely foolproof. Creditors and lenders with whom you already have accounts can access your credit report and score without you first unlocking your credit report. Certain law enforcement agencies and other government entities can access your credit report and score despite a security freeze.

The freeze doesn’t affect your credit score though it may make it harder for you to check your credit score through third-party websites.

In most states, the freeze remains in effect until you remove it. In a few states, the freeze expires after seven years. Check the credit bureau websites for the security freeze laws in your state.

Fees range from $5 to $20 to freeze, temporarily lift the freeze, remove the freeze, or to replace your PIN (the personal identification number used to freeze or unfreeze your credit report). If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, there is no fee to freeze your credit report. Some states also waive the fees for seniors over a certain age.

Equifax: Freeze Your Equifax Credit Report, 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents 1-800-349-9960)
Experian: Freeze Your Experian Credit Report, 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: Freeze Your TransUnion Credit Report, 1-888-909-887

Signing up for Equifax credit monitoring means you cannot sue them