Equifax Launches Free Alert Service After Major Hack and the Results are Mixed
After a major data breach that exposed sensitive personal information belonging to 145 million people, credit reporting company Equifax is fighting to regain consumer trust. According to an NBC news report, the company recently extended the deadline for consumers to put a free freeze on their Equifax credit file, or unfreeze it for free, until June 30, 2018.
New Service Introduced
It also unveiled a new service called Lock & Alert, which enables users to limit access to their Equifax file. This new service is available to anyone 18 or older who has an Equifax credit report. The company is promising consumers that this service will be free for life and that those who sign up for it will not be bound by Equifax’s mandatory arbitration clause, which would prevent consumers from filing a lawsuit, should something go wrong.
Equifax’s website touts Lock & Alert as a convenient service. But, some have had challenges even getting started. For example, when NBC News tried to sign up, they got the error message saying registration could not be completed. When they called Equifax customer care, they were told everything should work fine. But when NBC tried to sign on again they got another error message saying the site was experiencing technical difficulties.
After many more failed attempts, NBC made another cause to customer service and was told to expect an email in 24-28 hours with a link to log in. But, that email never came. When NBC logged on later, they were able to gain access. It is also important to know that a lock is not a security freeze. Both a lock and a freeze help protect you from forms of identity theft because they limit access to your credit report. This means no one can open new accounts or get new credit cards or open bank accounts. Companies with whom you have an existing relationship won’t be affected by a lock or freeze.
Security Freeze Might Be More Advantageous
The question advocates are asking is why create this new service. Why not, they say, just give people the ability to freeze and thaw their Equifax accounts at no cost? Equifax officials say they wanted to give consumers a convenient option that was different from a freeze. Also, unlike a freeze to which you are entitled under the law, a credit lock is subject to conditions and terms set by the credit bureau. Those terms can be changed at Equifax’s whim.
Advocates say consumers should know that they have more control with a freeze than they do with a lock. If you or a loved one has been the victim of the Equifax data breach or any other hack, contact an experienced consumer lawyer or class action attorney to better understand your legal rights and options.