Most likely, you or someone you know was negatively impacted by the massive Equifax data breach that was reported last year. That's because 143 million, nearly half of all Americans, had sensitive data stolen in the breach. Yikes!
If you haven't checked to see if you were part of the breach, it's a good idea to do that now. Click here to see if your personal data was exposed.
The consumer credit reporting agency has been trying, unsuccessfully, to make things right with victims. It introduced a free service to consumers this week and that is also causing problems.
What's wrong with Equifax's app?
After the colossal data breach was reported last year, Equifax announced that a new app would soon be released to help consumers lock their credit report. Well, that app was released earlier this week. It's called Lock & Alert™.
The app is supposed to put you in charge of who can access your Equifax credit report, with certain exceptions. The app description reads, "Quickly and easily lock and unlock your Equifax credit report with a click or swipe, and we'll alert you to confirm its status."
However, there seems to be a major problem with the app. Many people have been reporting problems with it. Everything from simply logging into the app, to getting it to successfully lock your credit report and everything in between.
The company told The New York Times that it was aware of some isolated problems and they were being worked on.
Equifax also announced that it would extend its free credit freeze program until June 30. It originally was to end January 31.
Setting up a credit freeze
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, allows you to restrict access to your credit reports and scores provided by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion).
Locking up your credit reports will prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts under your name even when they have managed to steal your personal information. Since lenders are required to check your credit report before they can approve a new application, a credit freeze can stop fraudulent accounts from being made at your expense.
To freeze your credit reports, you need to contact each of the three credit reporting bureaus via phone or their online forms:
Your personal information including your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, a copy of a government-issued ID and current and past addresses are required for the process.
You may also pay a fee, ranging from $5 to $10 per bureau, depending on your state. If you're a victim of identity theft, you can get a credit freeze for free if you can provide a copy of your police report or other supporting documents required by your state. Additionally, some states grant discounts to seniors over 65 and minors.
When the credit freeze takes effect, each bureau will send you a confirmation letter with a PIN code or password. Keep these in a secure place since these codes are required to lift the freeze.
In most states, a credit freeze will remain on an account until it is lifted by the account holder. However, keep in mind that in the states of Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Kentucky, a credit freeze will be automatically lifted after seven years.
Have a question about the Equifax data breach or anything related to technology? Kim has your answer! Click here to send Kim a question, she may use it and answer it on her radio show.
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