Many people have had very sensitive personal information exposed in the Equifax breach — Social Security numbers, account numbers, even drivers’ license numbers. Equifax is offering free credit freezes until November 21, 2017.
If you’re thinking of placing a freeze, consider the following:
- A freeze means that no one (including you) can access your credit file until you unfreeze it, using a PIN or passphrase. That makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
- To be effective, you must place a freeze with all three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
- A freeze can cost you money every time you freeze and unfreeze your file- at a cost of $5 to $10 per agency each time, depending on your state’s law.
Fraud alerts are free. With a fraud alert, creditors must try to verify your identity before extending new credit. The alert lasts for 90 days, You can renew it but you will need to remind yourself or it will expire automatically. Identity theft victims, however, are entitled to an extended fraud alert which lasts seven years. To place an alert, contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, either by phone or online.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students if they are willing to pay about $5 to $10 each time they freeze or unfreeze their accounts with each credit agency.
- Let students debate the issue: “A fraud alert is better than a credit freeze.”
- What are the differences between a fraud alert and a credit freeze?
- Should you consider a fraud alert or credit freeze if you become a victim of an identity theft? Why or why not?