by Candace Barrick, Becketwood Member
This is not legal or financial advice, just my experience.
Check this Website from the Federal Trade Commission for more complete information.
Credit Bureaus to call to freeze your credit from establishing new loans:
Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 (no cost until Jan. 31, 2018)
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 ($5+ tax in Minnesota)
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289 ($5+ tax in Minnesota)
Innovis: 1-800-540-2505 (no cost)
Consumer Credit Reporting Industry: 1-888-567-8688 to opt out of pre-approved offers for credit or insurance with all four credit bureaus (no cost)
My experience dealing with the security breach at Equifax Credit Bureau could save you some time and frustration. First, I asked the representative at my credit bureau what I should do. They recommended calling the three credit bureaus (listed below) to freeze my credit with each of them. The teller printed out the phone numbers for me to call.
I checked the information on the Equifax Website first. I was not comfortable using the Internet to transfer all that personal information to them. After all, there is evidence that they are vulnerable to hacking.
I called Equifax at the number provided by my credit union. I received recorded messages to select from a variety of options by pressing a digit on my phone or speaking a word for voice recognition. Options were: Press 1 for establishing a 90-day fraud alert; press 2 if you are an active duty member of the military, and so forth, to number 9 to repeat these options. I pressed number 1 and followed the next instructions, using the phone key pad to enter numbers:
Press 1 to enter Social Security Number (SSN) and #;
Press 1 to enter address numbers only and #;
Press 1 to enter daytime phone number and #; and
Enter evening phone number or say "no."
I received a confirmation number that my fraud alert request had been entered. Then I heard, "Please hold while we connect you to a representative to learn more about Equifax products and services." I still did not learn how to establish a freeze or get someone to talk to.
Next, I called Trans Union and talked to a live person. I explained my desire to freeze my credit. They told me to call a different Equifax number. Janet, at that number, told me that if I wanted to place a freeze on my credit with Equifax I should call 1-800-685-1111.
I dialed that number and heard more options, including: Press 3 to place a freeze on my credit. I pressed 3 to freeze my credit and received the following instructions:
Say the name of your state (for voice recognition)
Press 1 or say "yes" to confirm it is correct;
Enter your SSN using the telephone key pad;
Press 1 or say "yes" to confirm it is correct;
Enter the number portion of your address;
Press 1 or say "yes" to confirm it is correct; and
Say "freeze" or press 1 to freeze your credit.
Important: After that, I received a 10-digit PIN and a 10-digit confirmation number that I must keep on hand, along with a confirmation number I will receive in the mail. I will need this if I ever want to lift or remove the freeze.
Next I called Trans Union Credit Bureau at 1-800-680-7289.
Patricia answered, live. She asked for my name, phone number and the number I dialed. I told her that I wanted to freeze my credit. She told me to call 1-888-909-8872.
I called and was told to enter zip code (55406). Recorded options included: Press 3 to add a freeze to your credit account, so I pressed 3 and received instructions to enter (using telephone key pad) SSN; birth date; number portion of my address; and 6-digit PIN (this was confusing, but you create this number yourself). After going through these steps I learned that Trans Union has no credit history on me. However, David (with the accent of a speaker from India) offered to set up a credit history for me. I declined. Whew!
Next I called Experian at 1-888-397-3742.
I received the following recorded options: Press 1 to receive a copy of my credit report or score; and Press 2 for fraud prevention or to add or remove a freeze on my credit. I pressed 2 and heard more options, including Press 2 to place or remove a freeze on your credit. After another list of options, I pressed a number to “Hear a recording of the fees charged by each state to place a freeze on your credit if you are not yet a victim of identity theft. The fee in Minnesota is $5. Be ready with a credit card to enter payment. (I used a prepaid Visa gift card that can be used as a credit card to prevent compromising my credit card.)
Next, I entered the requested information, using the key pad, and an additional item, for mailing instructions.
You will hear a recording stating your freeze was successful and that a confirmation number will be mailed to you. Retain that confirmation number: It will be needed to access your account in the future.
Next, I called Innovis at 1-800-540-2505. This credit bureau was founded in 1970 and is growing. After following some prompts I spoke with a live person named Blake. (I recommend asking for the name of the person you speak with and writing it down in case you need to call back.) After answering Blake’s questions, I was told there is now a freeze on my credit and that I will receive a letter with a confirmation number. He also gave me a number (1-888-567-8688) to opt out of pre-approved offers of credit or insurance.
I heard the following recording:
"You have reached the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry opt in and opt out number":
Press 1 to remove your name for 5 years;
Press 2 to add your name back;
Press 3 to permanently remove your name.
Your request to opt out is sent to all for credit bureaus. Again, you enter information with the key pad, and a form will be mailed in a few days to complete the opt out process.
I suggest you plan to spend two to four hours concentrating on this process and have all the information you need ready to enter before you start.