By now, everyone knows that Equifax, the largest repository of credit information, suffered a major data breach over the summer. The result is approximately one-half of all Americans’ personal data will be available for scammers on the Internet. The risk is that a scammer, with your date of birth, social security number and other personal data, can use your identity to set up credit accounts and leave you holding the bag facing claims for payment and damaged credit.
The best way to protect yourself is to obtain a CREDIT FREEZE. Once in place, only you, your current creditors and collectors can access your credit information. New applications will be unavailable since the credit grantor can’t verify your credit information.
A credit freeze must be applied for to each of the big three credit agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The best way to obtain the freeze if by calling them directly, the phone numbers are:
Equifax 800-349-9960, Experian 888-397-3742 and Trans Union 888-909-8872
The freeze prevents new creditors from getting any information, so you won’t be able to get a new credit card, rent an apartment or buy/lease a car while in effect. The work-around is to ask the creditor which agency they use, and call it to temporarily lift the freeze. A small fee of $5 or $10 for each freeze-lift is charged.
I would appreciate any feedback regarding your experiences with the Equifax debacle.