Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

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Joe Jones
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Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by Joe Jones » Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:17 pm

I just want to make sure I understand the streamlined process for lifting, replacing and monitoring (checking the status) of credit freezes.

Sometime in 2015/2016 I froze my credit at Experian, Equifax and Transunion. I did so online.

I believe I opted out of signing up for accounts (as much as possible) at the time and kept it as simple as possible.

All I have left in my notes is a 10 digit # for each credit reporting agency.

I just went to take a look at Experian and I think I was getting caught up in the member sign-up part of their website rather than the hard credit freeze department, which I've heard is totally separate and automated? I couldn't log in or find any information. My old report number didn't seem valid. My email account was not recognized. I assume this is because I dodged signing up for an account and just froze my credit. I don't see any way to check the status of the credit freeze. It looks like I can request to lift it but they want an email address to lift it... or at least say it is faster etc. And when I enter my email address it says not valid.

So I signed up for an account, which was a fool move, because apparently the whole member section is just designed to sell you services (and maybe sell someone else your social sec # when the CEO gets a bored itch;) and the credit freeze department is separate.

In any case, can someone who has experience lifting, replacing and monitoring the status of their credit freezes chime in on the streamlined process for doing so?

Thank you Bogleheads!
Joe


EDIT: I did just manage to temporarily lift my freeze (just for a day) as a test but only after signing up for an account as a member. Do I have to lift the freeze at all three agencies to apply for a loan? I don't plan on doing so any time soon... just want to understand how these agencies work and have some control over my information.
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DiggleRex
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by DiggleRex » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:17 am

Did you try the automated phone system to do the temporary lift or you only tried online?

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Joe Jones
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by Joe Jones » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:30 pm

DiggleRex wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:17 am
Did you try the automated phone system to do the temporary lift or you only tried online?
I didn't... is it that easy? I did it online.

What struck me was—why can't anyone with my SS# lift the freeze? Really all I needed was my SS# and to answer a few pretty easy guess questions... all of which were "none of the above.'

Which type of pet insurance did you purchase in the past 5 years?
A
B
C
D
E None of the above.

If I were to apply for a mortgage or car loan, how do I know which company to lift the freeze with? Do they make a specific request? All three?

It felt like a good idea to make a member account on each company's website since it facilitated lifting the freeze. Better me than someone else with my name and SS#. Ugly business in any case.
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DiggleRex
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by DiggleRex » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:39 pm

Joe Jones wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:30 pm

I didn't... is it that easy? I did it online.
For experian specifically, one of the options on this page (https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html) is to remove or lift a security freeze. I don't believe having an account (or not) has anything to do with this; you just need to provide some info and your pin. I believe there is an automated phone number where you can do the equivalent thing. As far as anyone being able to lift your freeze--this is something that there have been some concerns about.

My understanding (I don't have freezes yet but plan to) is that with something like getting a new credit card, they will typically only pull 1/3 reports, and you can ask them in advance which one. I've read that with a mortgage they pull all three. As far as a car loan, you should be able to ask in advance which they are going to pull.

DiggleRex
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by DiggleRex » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:45 pm

Joe Jones wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:30 pm

It felt like a good idea to make a member account on each company's website since it facilitated lifting the freeze. Better me than someone else with my name and SS#. Ugly business in any case.
Does anyone have any opinions on this? I signed up for Experian's free monthly credit report just to keep an eye on it. I don't have any type of account with TransUnion or Equifax, and wasn't really planning to (because of giving them more info, accepting terms & conditions I don't understand or that limit my rights, etc). With Equifax, to my knowledge, no account is needed to do an online freeze and def not for a phone freeze. With TransUnion, an account is needed to do an online freeze but not needed to do it by phone.

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Joe Jones
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by Joe Jones » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:30 pm

A close family member had her identity stolen a few years ago, likely a combination of mail theft, key loggers and unsecured wifi, and the problem she ran into was that everywhere she went they didn't believe it was her. Someone else had already signed up for accounts and taken charge of her identity online. That's my concern regarding opting out of making accounts with these companies. I get the feeling they care less about who you are and will favor whoever made an account (and possibly paid for their service) when it comes time to reset passwords, freeze/unfreeze, basically claim control of your information and finances.
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DiggleRex
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by DiggleRex » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:36 pm

Well besides signing up for the free 1 year of trusted ID equifax is offering (a real irony trusting them to monitor things), I don't see any type of general "create an account" on equifax's website anywhere. On TransUnion, you can sign up for some "free" TrueIdentity service, but I'm wondering if that's a completely different login than the account you need to create to do an online freeze, because the URLs are quite different for the two. What are you signed up for?

Also, some people have pointed out losing some legal rights when signing up for these free services due to all the fine print.

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gasdoc
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by gasdoc » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:39 pm

We (myself, wife, and new adult daughter), have had security freezes with the big three companies for many years (ten?). It has never been a problem to go online, unfreeze the accounts at the necessary agency, and allow it to refreeze at the appropriate time. Usually, I will ask the company I am doing business with which agency they use for a credit check, they tell me, and I only unfreeze that agency. No problem, and great peace of mind.

gasdoc

DiggleRex
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by DiggleRex » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:44 pm

gasdoc wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:39 pm
It has never been a problem to go online, unfreeze the accounts at the necessary agency, and allow it to refreeze at the appropriate time.

gasdoc
Of the three, which do you have actual accounts with (like log in credentials)? The reason I ask is because it seems Equifax & Experian don't require any type of account to do this online, whereas TransUnion does (but can be done by phone without an account). I'm just trying to educate myself as much as possible before I take the next step of freezing everything.

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Joe Jones
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by Joe Jones » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:48 pm

Good points, and it's nice to hear about the simple, positive experience.

Experian, I signed up. Transunion, I have an acct from when I froze it initially. Equifax... I'm still scared to click anything related to it.

I guess I feel like if someone is going to try and steal my information and identity online... I want to be the first one to do so. Equifax... yeah I just don't know what to say about that. There's a fox guarding the henhouse.


EDIT: Oh and here's a good one: My accountant had his database hacked and his identity stolen. He got news from Mississippi that he was late on rent. (He doesn't live in Mississippi) I told him about doing a credit freeze and he sent out a notice to all his clients that they should do so. He's a super sharp, great guy. I think it's generational. But yeah.
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DiggleRex
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by DiggleRex » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:58 pm

Joe Jones wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:48 pm

Experian, I signed up. Transunion, I have an acct from when I froze it initially. Equifax... I'm still scared to click anything related to it.
With Experian, did you sign up for the free plan (lets you view a simplified version of the report and refreshes every month)? I tried to sign up online and got error messages after the security questions that I'm positive I answered correctly. Had to call and speak to someone and answer a bunch more questions to complete the process. TransUnion, I'm on the fence about signing up for the freeze account (vs strictly dealing with it by the automated phone system). I read a lot of people had tons of problems signing up for it (e.g., it told them they already had an account even though they didn't) and I read an article on the fine print (terms & conditions) of signing up, and the article said that it basically says they're not responsible for anything, arbitration instead suing, yada yada. As of right now, I don't plan on signing up for the free 1 yr of protection from Equifax (tons of people are still reporting problems signing up). I mean, I'm certainly not going to pay them for anything after the year is up anyway.

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Joe Jones
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by Joe Jones » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:55 pm

Yes, I signed up for the free plan online. The questions were frightfully easy.
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gasdoc
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by gasdoc » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:24 pm

DiggleRex wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:44 pm
gasdoc wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:39 pm
It has never been a problem to go online, unfreeze the accounts at the necessary agency, and allow it to refreeze at the appropriate time.

gasdoc
Of the three, which do you have actual accounts with (like log in credentials)? The reason I ask is because it seems Equifax & Experian don't require any type of account to do this online, whereas TransUnion does (but can be done by phone without an account). I'm just trying to educate myself as much as possible before I take the next step of freezing everything.
Sorry, I don't recall actually signing up for an account, per se, at any of them. Like I said, I started this process many years ago. I just know I have a PIN for all three, and as long as I don't lose the pin, I am golden.

gasdoc

DiggleRex
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Re: Credit Freeze - Temporarily Lifting, Restoring and Monitoring

Post by DiggleRex » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:42 pm

I just signed up for the TransUnion Freeze Account online and I'm feeling slightly sick about it. I successfully placed the freeze but I just noticed that it stores the credit card info by default that you used to place the freeze, and if you go to "update your account" it shows the full CC number (rather than asterisks). :( also, it's a required field, so it's not like you can just delete it and leave it blank. Now I regret not dealing with the whole process over the phone. Any thoughts anyone? If you signed up for the freeze online with TU, does this bother you?

*Just also noticed the PW recovery process is scarily easy :(

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