May 20, 2019

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Year of Free Credit Report Monitoring Is Ending. Here’s What to Do Now.

Year of Free Credit Report Monitoring Is Ending. Here’s What to Do Now.
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An Equifax spokeswoman, Nancy Bistritz-Balkan, said Equifax would continue to offer credit monitoring tools to consumers, but had a “strategic relationship” with Experian to provide a year of free credit monitoring to breach victims through IDnotify.

It’s unclear how many people may be affected by the lock issue. Ms. Bistritz-Balkan declined to say how many consumers had enrolled in free credit monitoring after the breach, which compromised the personal information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates and other sensitive details, of more than 145 million people.

Edward Steen, a retired patent lawyer in New York, said he had subscribed to the free credit monitoring after the Equifax breach, and had started to fill out an online form to get the extra free year from Experian. But since he and his wife had each placed security freezes on their credit files, he decided he didn’t need it. “What’s the point?” he asked.

Credit monitoring services notify subscribers of activity in their credit files, which are maintained by the three big credit bureaus (the third is TransUnion), as a way to flag possible fraud or identity theft. The services may also offer a package of other related features.

Mr. Stephens said he was puzzled by Equifax’s move to offer consumers credit monitoring from a competitor. Still, he said he saw no harm in using free credit monitoring — as long as it covered all three bureaus and consumers realized that it was a “reactive” service that notified them of activity in their credit file after it occurred, rather than preventing it.

Here are some questions and answers about credit protection:

What if I subscribed to TrustedID Premier but have a security freeze on my Equifax credit file, rather than a lock?

The expiration of credit monitoring from TrustedID Premier won’t affect credit freezes — just locks. “If your Equifax credit report is frozen and not locked,” Equifax told subscribers, “the security freeze will stay in place.”

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