Experian and TransUnion refusing to freeze credit online?
September 8, 2017 8:19 PM   Subscribe

I, along with many others, found out today that my PII may have been leaked in the EquiFax hack. Following the suggestions of many people both here on the blue (green?) and elsewhere, I froze my credit through EquiFax, and tried to freeze my credit at TransUnion and Experian. However, I ran into some difficulties and I'm freaking out a little bit.

Unfortunately neither TransUnion or Experian said that they could verify my identity. I tried several different combinations of possible address sequences, however none worked. I'm freaking out a little bit right now, as it's the one concrete thing I can do, and apparently there's something wrong. This is kind of a three-parter (and I hope this is different enough from jourman2's post to qualify for an ask).

1. Are others encountering this difficulty?

2. Given that I've been stymied online, is it worth it to submit the documentation through the mail. Right now I'm not super eager to put more copies of my PII out there?

3. On a scale of 1-10, how much anxiety should this provoke?
posted by phack to Work & Money (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Could you also use Equifax to put a fraud alert on your file? If you place a fraud alert through Equifax, they will notify Experian and TransUnion, who will then also respect it. (See here if you need a run-down of the differences.)

On a scale of 1-10, how much anxiety should this provoke?

Nobody can answer this definitively, I expect. But try to stay calm - nothing bad has happened yet.
posted by mellifluous at 9:05 PM on September 8, 2017

Best answer: To answer your first question: I just froze all three, on my phone, in less than 10 minutes. Only one charged $10.

As for No. 3: Just call them. Please don't cause yourself panic and anxiety if it's not yet warranted.

Call them.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 9:06 PM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just froze all of them. I got the same messages from Experian and Transunion that they were unable to verify my identity, and was able to get both done by calling the automated phone system. It only took a few minutes for each. (this article from The Verge has a list.)
posted by Kronios at 9:47 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

There is talk that freezing your credit with Experian includes a bit of bullshit in the agreement that you give up your right to sue them...
posted by kuanes at 4:05 AM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

The losing the right to sue isn't about freezing your credit, it's about enrolling in their credit monitoring thing. There are no similar problems suspected from freezing your credit.
posted by brainmouse at 9:47 AM on September 9, 2017

On a scale of 1-10, how much anxiety should this provoke?

I'm a consumer attorney and a member of NACA. This stuff is my field. I'm not your attorney, and I have no knowledge about your personal circumstances. But strictly as a data point, speaking from my own perspective and about my own circumstances: I am not concerned.

is it worth it to submit the documentation through the mail

I do everything through the mail. I'm not a fan of using the telephone, especially in this arena. I've learned through experience to distinguish between these two things:
  • "I told the company to do this. Here's the letter."
    "I talked to someone on the phone. I don't remember who. It was sometime in September, I think. Maybe October, I don't know. But the person definitely agreed. He said they were doing it."
Using the internet isn't much better. ("I definitely did it. I used the website.") I like being able to prove things. If I wanted a company to freeze my credit, for example, I'd send a letter. I would note, "VIA FIRST-CLASS MAIL" right beneath the addressee (or certified mail, etc), and I'd sign it, and I'd scan it to PDF before mailing. Then I organize the PDFs so I can find them easily. For instance, I have outgoing personal correspondence sorted into folders by year.

Based on my professional experience, I'd say you have a slightly better chance of the company not screwing up if you send a letter versus make a telephone call...but if they do screw up, you have a significantly better chance of having the problem fixed quickly—and being compensated, if relevant—if you can produce a letter. If you want to go the extra mile, you can purchase a certificate of mailing (proof of mailing) or send it via certified mail (tracking will show delivery).

If you dislike mail and prefer to use the telephone, you can still incorporate the lesson by keeping specific notes, so that when a problem arises you can say: "On September 9, I called 866-555-2123 and spoke to Mary C., who confirmed the company would do X and Y."

Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 11:51 AM on September 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just froze my credit with 3/4 sites on the aforementioned Verge article (gracias Kronios). TransUnion was the holdout, the website claimed I had a login/password, but I couldn't get past the SUSPICIOUSLY DUMB security question. I called 866-744-8221 and a very nice and busy sounding woman froze my account for me and said the password is in the mail.

Now reading what cribcage wrote. I'll call them back next week, whether or not they get back to me. I never did get logged in online.

So - it can be done! I think!
posted by Vatnesine at 1:27 PM on September 9, 2017

Equifax now says that using the free credit monitoring that they are offering as a result of this cyberattack will not void your right to be participating in a class action suit.
In response to consumer inquiries, we have made it clear that the arbitration clause and class action waiver included in the Equifax and TrustedID Premier terms of use does not apply to this cybersecurity incident.

I haven't read the small print yet but it looks like the bad press results in a better outcome from the consumer.
posted by metahawk at 8:53 PM on September 9, 2017

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