In 2018 Equifax, one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus, reported that identity thieves stole the Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers of approximately 143 million Americans.
Now, all these people are trying to put a freeze on their credit. All at the same time.
ACCESSING CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY WEBSITES
While 143 million Americans may not actually be competing with you for access to TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian’s websites, if you’re trying to freeze your own credit it probably feels like it. All three bureaus verified that high volume is the culprit responsible for recent delays and outages, and they are taking immediate steps to increase capacity. If you decided to freeze your credit (or alternatively, put a temporary fraud alert on your credit), we suggest visiting the websites during off-peak periods, such as very early in the morning or late at night, when volumes are likely to be lower.
TRUSTED ID CREDIT MONITORING
We’ve received many questions about Equifax’s TrustedID credit monitoring program and if SYM recommends participation. The decision to register or not register for this service is individual to each person. However, if you do wish to take advantage of TrustedID monitoring, know that Equifax recently modified the TrustedID user agreement to remove the arbitration clause and class action waiver language that caused such controversy when it was introduced last week.
FEES TO FREEZE?
Also be aware that in certain states, credit bureaus charge a fee to freeze or unfreeze your credit. Depending upon your situation, you may be asked to pay when implementing or lifting a freeze. Check the links below to understand costs in your state.
PROTECT YOUR PIN
One last tip: If you choose to implement any form of credit security with the various agencies, do not lose the PIN provided by the credit bureaus. The bureaus will require this PIN if you ever wish to lift a freeze to obtain new credit, and the process for reestablishing a lost PIN is intentionally onerous. Learn from our experience (some gained the hard way and some vicariously), to safeguard your credit bureau PINs, store them with your other important passwords, and prevent yourself a major headache down the line.
As always, feel welcome to share this email with anyone who would find the information valuable. To contact your SYM team with specific questions or concerns or for help manging your personal investments, visit SYM online, or call 800-888-7968 to speak with an advisor.
CREDIT BUREAU SITE LINKS
Freeze your Transunion report here. Or by phone at 888-909-8872 (when tested, went right through)
Freeze your Experian report here. Or by phone at 888-397-3742 (when tested, repeated busy signal)
Freeze your Equifax report here. Or by phone at 888-766-0008 (when tested, phone number for 90 day or 7-year fraud alerts only; must visit website for security freeze)
Freeze your Chex Systems report here. Or by phone at 800-887-7652 (when tested, went right through)
Disclosure: SYM Financial Corporation (“SYM”) is an independent investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about SYM, including our investment strategies, fees, and objectives can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available upon request.