Brrrr! It's cold in here! 'Cause I just froze my credit and I'm going to take you through my experience, so that if you decide to do it to, you'll kinda know what to expect.
To start, did you watch the Last Week Tonight piece on the Equifax data breech? If you haven’t seen it, you really should. Here you go:
So yeah, after I watched that, I kinda panicked about my credit and quickly went about pulling my credit reports and placing a freeze on each one. I really had no idea what I was doing, so I decided to write this blog post about the experience so that others could have an idea of the process before they decided to undertake it.
Disclaimer: I’m just relating my personal experience here. I’m not a credit expert and cannot advise you on what you should do. Everyone’s situation is different. Please fully research credit reports and credit freezes for yourself.
The first thing I did was pull my credit report to see if any accounts had been opened in my name without my knowledge. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion per year, which you can get at www.annualcreditreport.com. I was anxious using the site, but I got it from a trusted friend, so I went ahead and did it. And it all worked out, so, phew!
After being extremely relieved to discover that no one was going around opening credit cards and taking out loans in my name, I decided to place a freeze on my credit so that no one (including myself) could open up accounts in my name unless they first lifted the freeze using a special pin that only I would have. At first I tried doing this online, but that process wasn’t working, so instead I found automated hotlines and did it over the phone (The following site has a lot of helpful information about credit freezes in general AND lists the numbers to call https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs)
Here’s how that went:
With each hotline you have to input some personal information such as your social security number, date of birth, numerical portion of your address, zip code, etc. Depending on your state of residence, you may have to pay a fee ($5-10), although right now Equifax is waving the fee to place a freeze (I mean, it’s the least they can do, right?). I paid $10 each to Experian and TransUnion, but I mean, it seems a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Equifax will give you a long pin number and a transaction confirmation number over the phone, so be ready to write those down (you can repeat the message, which I did, several times). Experian will just tell you a pin number is coming in the mail, which is a little disconcerting, but I relaxed when I got my letter five days later. TransUnion will ask YOU to input a six digit pin of your own, so be ready to do that. They only give you two fairly quick chances before they try to pass you off to a customer service agent (who will never pick up), so make up your pin before you call to avoid any hassle.
And that’s it! I called on a Monday and had letters from Experian and TransUnion by Saturday. Equifax arrived Monday, but I guess I’ll give them a pass. They’ve got some stuff going on.
Hope that helps!
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