After the Equifax data breach potentially exposed 143 million Americans’ personal information — including Social Security numbers — money expert Clark Howard has said a credit freeze is the #1 way to protect your identity.
However, Team Clark is hearing from people who’ve had a lot of trouble placing a credit freeze through Equifax’s website.
Problems reported with Equifax’s credit freeze site
A credit freeze, which is also called a security freeze, locks down your credit and can only be lifted with a personal identification number (PIN) that you receive when you enroll.
Some people who’ve followed Clark’s step-by-step credit freeze guide say they’re running into issues with Equifax particularly.
We’re getting reports that Equifax’s security freeze website isn’t able to process some freezes during this time when so many Americans are worried about identity theft.
I can assure you that the instructions in Clark’s credit freeze guide are accurate. I was able to freeze my credit with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion online in about 15 minutes.
Equifax has acknowledged the sign-up problems in a statement posted to its website on Wednesday:
“Due to the high volume of security freeze requests, we experienced temporary technical difficulties and our system was offline for approximately an hour at 5PM ET on September 13, 2017 to address this issue. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
What should you do if you’ve been unable to place a credit freeze online? Clark says mark your calendar for one week from today and try again. Hopefully this concern will be resolved by then.
Clark: Do not call Equifax’s help line
One thing that Clark doesn’t want you to do is call the Equifax help line listed on the company’s data breach website.
When I personally called the number to ask about Equifax waiving the fees for security freezes, the call center representative couldn’t answer my question. She said she could only help me sign up for Equifax’s credit monitoring service.
To be clear, Clark says that’s not the best idea. He recommends that you sign up for Credit Karma instead. It’s 100% free!
Follow these two steps to protect your identity:
- Sign up for an account with creditkarma.com to get free credit monitoring and notifications of suspicious activity
- Freeze your credit at all three main credit bureaus
This data breach is so severe that the criminals will be able to use this information for decades, so if you’re getting a message from Equifax that your request can’t be processed at this time — please keep trying!