PODCAST-To freeze or not to freeze (your credit), that is the question – and with entertaining prose, Dr. Perrodin, helps you measure the thorny considerations that will yield your noble answer in midst of the slings and arrows of outrageous fiscal fortunes. If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit agencies. David explains that the agencies are not extensions of the government and how locking credit now is a solid option (in his opinion).

 

DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode:  https://tinyurl.com/SDP51

 

WHAT PERSONAL DATA WAS HACKED?

Per Seena Gressin, Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC, The Equifax breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.

WHAT ARE CREDIT BUREAUS AND WHY DO THEY EXIST?

There are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and they took root across the United States in the roaring 1920s. Credit bureaus were created to help lenders and creditors decide potential customers that were “credit worthy.” However, it was voluntary for businesses and government agencies to “share” individuals’ financial history with the bureaus.

ARE THE CREDIT BUREAUS GOVERNMENT AGENCIES?

Nope! It might surprise you to learn that none of the credit bureaus are federal agencies. In fact, they have no government affiliations whatsoever! These are private companies that collect information from creditors regarding your credit history. They sell this information to creditors and the data is used to determine if you are “credit worthy.” If you use little credit, meaning you have paid in cash, don’t have a stack of credit cards, or own your house, you might actually receive a subpar credit score as you haven’t “demonstrated” an ability to manage debt. Yes, as insane as that sounds, it’s an accurate summation of the punishment of fiscally conservative minimalists.

SHOULD I FREEZE MY CREDIT?

Probably. Check with valuepenguin.com for state by state information on how to freeze and thaw your credit and the associated fees.  Expect to pay $30 to freeze your credit at the “Big 3” bureaus and you must deal with each on its finicky process to freeze and thaw credit. The benefit to a freeze is that someone won’t be able to take out a loan in your name – your risk for identity fraud drops.

DOWNFALL TO FREEZING CREDIT

Most potential employers want to check your credit – so that requires you to thaw it, and then freeze it again – and there’s $60 down the drain. Now, apply for a car loan, and another freeze and thaw cycle. In fact, young job hunters can end up paying hundreds in freeze/law fees. By the way, the default setting by the “Big 3” is to have your credit open. I believe that the default should be to have frozen credit. Also, charging fees each time credit is thawed and the (re)-frozen seems like a scam. Oh, TransUnion’s stock price has increased 75% year-to-date and despite the Equifax fumble, its stock is down less than 8% in 2017.

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RESOURCES CITED

The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do by Seena Gressin – Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC (September 8, 2017)

Here’s what it costs to freeze your credit after Equifax breach by Sarah O’ Brien – CNBC (September 15, 2017)

Check your state’s credit freeze / thaw fees at ValuePenguin.com 

Obtain your free annual credit report from annualcreditreport.com  Review it carefully & contest all errors!