Equifax Free Credit Report Freeze: Key Essentials You Need To Know

icicles hanging from credit card equifax free credit report freeze

Do You Need an Equifax Free Credit Report Freeze?

The news of the Equifax data breach struck fear into everyone, and rightly so. Social security numbers, dates of birth – someone out there has it all. Overnight, a little-known identify theft prevention strategy became common knowledge – credit freezes. With Equifax offering free credit freezes, it seems like a perfect opportunity to protect yourself. But there is more to it than meets the eye. Here are some things you need to know about an Equifax free credit report freeze:

man walking on ice

How a Credit Freeze Works

A credit freeze blocks anyone from accessing your credit. This means people with your data can’t open new accounts in your name. That’s one of the largest risks of this type of data breach, so a credit freeze is a big help.

After you freeze your credit, you’ll need to unfreeze it every time you need to use it. That means every time you apply for an apartment rental, a car loan, or a new credit card.

When you create the freeze, you’ll get a PIN code. Anytime you need to unfreeze your credit, you’ll contact the credit bureau and give them your code.

The Benefit of an Equifax Free Credit Report Freeze

Clearly, that word “free” is a perk. In normal circumstances, you would pay a fee to freeze and unfreeze credit. But because Equifax is responsible for your increased risk, they’re doing it for free temporarily.

The largest benefit is that a credit freeze stops one of the most damaging forms of identity theft. Someone could open a credit card, high-interest loan, or even a mortgage in your name. And you would have no idea until it had torched your credit.

What to Consider before Freezing Your Credit

Before you jump to freeze your credit, here are a few factors to consider:

Cost

You can only get an Equifax free credit report freeze until January 31st, 2018. After that, there will be a cost to freeze your credit with Equifax.

In order for a freeze to be effective, you need to place it with all three credit bureaus. Besides Equifax, this includes Transunion and Experian.

Fees vary by state, but most freezes will cost between $3 and $10 per credit bureau. You’ll need to pay these fees every time you freeze and unfreeze your credit. They’re small charges but they can add up if you use your credit often.

What Credit Freezes Won’t Do

A credit freeze doesn’t mean you’re free from identity theft. Anyone who gets your credit cards or bank account information can still use them.

A credit freeze also doesn’t block your existing creditors from accessing your credit. The same goes for collection agencies acting on their behalf. So sorry, it’s not a license to bail on your bills.

Other Credit Protection Options

A credit freeze is a great way to protect your identity and your credit score. But if you’re not sure, there are other steps you can take.

A fraud alert is a free service credit bureaus offer. If you place a fraud alert, creditors need to verify your identity to open a new account in your name.

If you don’t believe you’re at risk but you want to be safe, consider credit monitoring services. This won’t prevent fraud, but it will tell you when it happens so you can act quickly.

surveillance cameras

The Verdict on Credit Freezes

There’s nothing that protects your credit the way a credit freeze does, but it does have its downsides.

Ultimately, you need to be the one to decide if it’s the right option for you. But the guide above can help you understand and weigh the pros and cons.

For more helpful tips on credit and finance, explore CreditSquared.com today!

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4 Comments

  1. I was told about this through word of mouth but I did not really understand everything there is to know about a free credit report freeze.

    I found this to be a very good article that helps me to better understand the process of a credit freeze.

    I was also happy to read that there are other credit protection options available. 

    This post really provides a lot of great information that I can use to find out which one is best suited for myself. 

    Thanks for sharing this great content.

    • Happy to hear you found the article to be helpful.  With all of the personal data breaches occurring more frequently, every consumer should be aware of the tools available to them to protect their credit,

      Just keep in mind that their is a cost to freeze your credit and unfreeze it when you want to apply for new credit.

      It’s a good strategy when you don’t have a need for a lot of credit and the cost is much cheaper than subscribing to a monthly credit monitoring service like LifeLock or similar types of services.

      If you use a lot of credit then a credit monitoring service is probably your best bet.  Just remember to keep an eye on your credit report periodically for any suspicious activity.

      You can do that here for free (once per year).

      Free Annual Credit Report

      Just rotate between credit agencies ever 4 months and you should have it covered.

      Patrick

      Creditsquared.com

  2. Really great post. The credit breach has been big news lately and the post is very educating as to what to do if you have been affected.

    The information you provide about the Equifax free credit report freeze is very easy to digest, short and to the point.

    I never knew much about how credit freezes work and thankfully I am more educated on the subject.

    • Hi Elan – Thanks for your comments.

      The credit breach at Equifax has been huge news recently.  It’s a perfect example of how we as consumers must be vigilant when it comes to protecting our personal information.

      If your personal data was compromised at Equifax (which I think most of us have) your entitled to a free credit report freeze.

      Equifax is offering it for a year for those consumers that were breached.  Seems like the offering should be for a lifetime  given how careless they were.

      If you want to freeze your credit with the other credit reporting agencies it will cost you around $10.00 to freeze and another $10.00 to unfreeze you credit report.

      It almost seems like a draconian step to take, but if you don’t use a lot of credit it’s probably the best approach.

      If you use a lot of credit then I suggest you sign up for a credit monitoring service like Lifelock.  There are other good credit monitoring services as well.

      Best Credit Monitoring

      All the best,

      Patrick

      Creditsquared.com

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