This morning, I took the advice of a very smart man to freeze your credit immediately on (the devil) Equifax, Transunion and Experian. This was done after receiving easy links to do so from Peter Mallouk and his wonderful advisers at Creative Planning.
Why should you freeze your credit NOW?
Because the execs and minions at Equifax fell asleep at the proverbial wheel and allowed key personal information on almost 150 million people to be hacked. Last week, I logged into the Equifax site to see if my information had been “compromised.” After scanning my files, was informed that, indeed, my information was at risk. They also promised to get back with me with credit monitoring and information on how to freeze my account. Almost a week later, and still no response.
Leave it to fiduciaries for our son at Creative Planning to provide an easy solution on how to freeze your credit immediately. (Too bad Equifax didn’t have the decency or wherewithal to have done so as well.) Below is the email sent by Peter Mallouk to their clients and which may help our readers and clients take immediate action to protect themselves. I hope they do not min me sharing!
As everyone on earth now knows, Equifax, one of the three major credit agencies, suffered one of the greatest hacks ever, exposing the personal information of, well, just about everyone in America with credit.2
So what are we all to do?
If you are someone whose credit is checked frequently, then the cost of reopening and closing your credit over and over can be cost prohibitive, up to $12 each time, and a bit of a pain. If you have a job that requires frequent credit checks, or are the sort of person who gets a new credit card every time you go to a new place (10% off if you apply for the Banana Republic card!), then perhaps you pass on this. For the rest of us, it’s time.
Yes, we are going DEFCON 1 here.
So what does a freeze actually mean? Quite simply, it means that the credit agency will give you a personal identification number that only you know. No one will have access to your frozen credit report unless you thaw the report by using your PIN. By doing this, even if a criminal gets your personal information, they won’t be able to establish new credit in your name.
So let’s get to it. Here’s what you need to do. First, while the breach was at Equifax, you will still need to freeze your credit at all three credit agencies to prevent credit from being established through any of these three potential ‘entry points’.3 Also, freeze the credit of any of your minor children—we aren’t messing around here.
Freeze: You can freeze your credit online at https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp or by calling (888) 909-8872.
Thaw: You can thaw your credit online at https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp or by calling (888) 909-8872.
Freeze: You can freeze your credit online at https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/freeze or by calling (888) 397-3742 (select prompt 2).
Thaw: You can thaw your credit online at https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/removefreeze or by calling (888) 397-3742 (select prompt 2).
Freeze: You can freeze your credit online at https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp or by calling (800) 685-1111 (select prompt 3) or if in New York by calling (800) 349-9960.4
Thaw: You can thaw your credit online at https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp or by calling (800) 685-1111 (select prompt 3) or if in New York by calling (800) 349-9960.
Your personal financial security is a top priority and you can expect more from us as we work with our security consultants on other ways to help you protect yourself.
1Many readers have figured out that I often use song titles as titles for our newsletters. Having now used a Vanilla Ice title, it may be time for me to call it a day.
2Not only that, but the executives sold some of their shares in Equifax prior to sharing the news with the public. I am sure there’s a special place in hell for this, or at least one can hope, in jail.
3Exactly how agitated do you think the customer service teams must be at Transunion and Experian?!
4Expect a wait time of approximately 114 hours!
And since I have yet to hear back from Equifax, who promised to set up credit monitoring, I will be doing so on my own at Lifelock today.