Following the largest data breach in the nation’s history, Equifax announced that it is extending its free credit freezes to consumers through June. The data breach this past fall exposed the personal information of about 143 million Americans, and has even prompted warnings from housing analysts that the breach could impact buyers’ ability to complete a home sale.
The personal information stolen by hackers could compromise consumers’ Social Security numbers, addresses, and credit card information and potentially stall their loan approval or even have their information shared and used in unlawful real estate transactions.
To safeguard their credit, many consumers have opted to put a freeze to their credit accounts. Security freezes can prevent credit reporting companies from releasing a credit report without the person’s consent and prevent thieves from opening an account or getting credit using their personal information. But a freeze can also potentially delay, interfere with, or prohibit timely approval of any financing request or application, such as with a mortgage, rental housing, new loans, utilities, and more. Therefore, home shoppers will need to remember to unfreeze their accounts before applying for a mortgage.
Equifax’s original deadline for free credit freezes was set to expire Jan. 31. But now, consumers will have another five months to request a credit freeze through June 30. Consumers who freeze their credit report through Equifax may want to do the same at the other two major credit bureaus, Experian and TransUnion.
Also in keeping accounts more secure, Equifax announced the launch of a new credit locking service app called Lock & Alert, also available for free. While a credit freeze can be lifted by a consumer with a PIN, a credit lock uses “modern authentication techniques, such as username and passwords and one-time passcodes for better user experience,” Equifax explained recently to CNN Money. The app is available through the App Store and Google Play.
Source: “Equifax Launches Its Credit Locking App and Extends Free Credit Freezes Through June,” TechCrunch (Jan. 31, 2018)