Thanks to the recent Equifax breach, many individuals are wondering whether they should freeze their credit. As approximately 143 million Americans were affected, this is a reasonable question, and the fact that the website established as a result of the breach isn’t helping matters. While the government is looking into the matter, this won’t help those who were impacted, and an equifax credit freeze may give them peace of mind. What are the drawbacks of taking this step?
Individuals often don’t realize what a credit freeze entails. Although it doesn’t take much to freeze credit, when a person who has taken this measure goes to obtain credit, it becomes harder to do so. The freeze must be lifted before funds are applied for and then put back into place once the funds have been delivered. Furthermore, each credit reporting agency must be contacted independently. Reaching Equifax right now is difficult, if not impossible, making things even worse.
Fees May Be Involved
Those who don’t plan to apply for a loan of any type in the near future may believe they still want to take this step. When they go to unfreeze the credit, however, they could be charged a fee. In addition, this fee may be charged every time they wish to unfreeze their credit in the future and the credit reporting agency may not act in a timely manner when the consumer asks that the freeze be lifted. This could mean a delay in getting the desired funds.
The Damage Is Already Done
A freeze won’t be of much help to those individuals who had their information stolen. The cybercriminals already have it. The goal of a freeze is to prevent individuals in the future from obtaining the information, thus those who were impacted will still have to take action to mitigate any damage that has already been incurred. One thing that has come to light as a result of the breach is the PINs being used to access a credit report after it has been frozen have likewise been affected. This has led to issues for those who weren’t impacted, but previously had a freeze on their credit.
Consider the above information when determining if a credit freeze is needed. Many people will find taking this action leads to more harm than good. It’s a personal decision, however, one that only the impacted individual can make.