Equifax data breach: Is freezing your credit the best move?

Posted at 6:53 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 13:25:26-04

Over one hundred million consumers’ records were stolen in the Equifax data breach and victims are scrambling to protect their identity.

Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette, announced that four million Michigan residents were affected by this cyber breach and this could become a problem for your credit

Like so many of us, after hearing about the Equifax data breach, Troy resident, John Tyson, went online and got some bad news.

“I checked it and it came back and it said yours may have been compromised,” according to Tyson.

He couldn’t immediately sign up for the free credit monitoring because Equifax was staggering the number of requests. John was feeling vulnerable to hackers so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

“I’m just gonna go ahead and freeze my credit so I went ahead with TransUnion, Experian and Equifax,” John explains.

Consumer reports says that’s the best thing the 143 million victims of the breach can do to protect themselves. A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Putting on a freeze took John less than ten minutes.

Equifax waived the normal fee and Experian and TransUnion charged ten dollars each.

Freezing your account works really well if you or your family will not need to get new credit.

Nejat Seyhun, is a professor of finance at U of M’s Ross School of Business.

“If you actually need credit at this time, that’s not probably a good idea,” per Seyhun.

To lift the freeze, which also costs ten dollars, can take up to ten days, and if you need a line of credit fast, the company that you applied to won’t have access to your report.

In light of the breach, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would prohibit companies from charging a fee to place or remove a credit freeze.

Professor Seyhun says now that Equifax is allowing you to sign up for the free credit monitoring without giving up your rights to sue, it's in your best interest to take advantage of the free monitoring.

"Hopefully, this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. That the gov’t comes in and starts to do some regulation,” adds Tyson.

Be careful of a new potential scam that has surfaced. Fraudulent phone calls have been circulating since the breach. Equifax will never call you out of the blue.