By now, just about everyone will have heard about the Equifax hack that exposed the personally identifying information of 143 million American consumers. While the damage has already been done, to an extent, questions remain about how the average person can best respond to this unfortunate event. A new report at yahoo news suggests that many people will do better to ignore the most common advice.
Experts Everywhere Are Recommending Credit Freezes
As soon as news of the breach broke, analysts and pundits began pushing for consumers to put freezes on their credit records. By contacting each of the three major credit reporting agencies individually, they advised, people could make the illicit use of their personal information a lot less likely.
A credit freeze is a potentially powerful tool, so it is understandable that this advice would be so common. Once a freeze has been established for a particular person’s credit record, the information it contains will no longer be released to lenders and others who might be thinking of offering loans.
Many Might Do Better to Hold Off
That can make a credit freeze seem like a natural response to events like the recent Equifax hack. On the other hand, as the Yahoo! commentator recently pointed out, there are also drawbacks to consider. These include:
- The time and expense required to establish and manage the freeze. If credit reporting agencies made it extremely easy to freeze and unfreeze credit records, this option would be easier to recommend. Unfortunately, the system is both frequently arcane and currently swamped with tens of millions of requests.
- More trouble acquiring credit and event applying for jobs and housing. Credit records have become so fundamental to life in the United States that locking them up can cause plenty of problems of its own. In some cases, it might be better to at least wait until certain major life events have passed.
- New sources of vulnerability. The PIN that must be used to unfreeze credit records is another reason for concern. Thieves who manage to obtain that piece of information could be put into an even more damaging position.
As a result, some are now suggesting that many Americans could do better to request simple fraud alerts instead. Whatever each individual chooses, however, keeping up to date with any news that might follow should be a priority.