In addition to the website issues, the solution being offered by Equifax may do little to prevent fraudsters from opening new credit lines in a victim’s name.
The company’s identity theft protection and credit file monitoring allow you to put a lock on your Equifax report to prevent it being pulled by a lender, among other services. Yet some lenders turn to the other two national credit reporting companies, TransUnion or Experian, when they receive credit or loan applications.
“The problem is that the service Equifax is giving away only allows you to lock down Equifax, not the other two,” said John Ulzheimer, a credit expert and president of The Ulzheimer Group in Atlanta.
And Equifax’s offer of free monitoring may not be the best bet: The terms and conditions require users to resolve disputes through arbitration, and ban them from participating in class-action lawsuits. Though that fine print gives consumers the ability to opt out by notifying the company in writing within 30 days, many people may not see it, Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said in a statement.
Putting a lock on a credit report basically means a lender cannot access it to check on your credit score or history, which means they won’t approve the application. You can unlock it temporarily if you need to apply for credit or a loan.
Ulzheimer said you would need to put a lock on your reports from TransUnion and Experian to cover all your bases.