Today was supposed to be the deadline for Equifax’s free credit freeze offering, but the company has decided to extend the service to consumers for another five months. Now, Equifax customers can request a credit freeze through June 30.
Still, January 31 is the last day to cash in on free credit monitoring through Equifax’s TrustedID Premier program, assuming you still trust the company that failed to protect the personal data of 143 million users enough to rely on it.
Equifax decided to offer these user services after a massive outcry from consumers and intense criticism from Congress last September.
Users who freeze their credit report through Equifax also should look into doing so at Experian and TransUnion, the other two major credit bureaus. Choosing to freeze your credit reports is a useful if imperfect tool for anyone concerned that their accounts or identifying information (social security numbers, birth dates, etc.) might be compromised, but it can prevent would-be identity thieves from opening a line of credit or a loan in your name.
Equifax also is introducing a new credit locking service called Lock & Alert, made available today (and free for life) in app form. It may sound redundant, but a lock and a freeze are two different services. As the company explained to CNN Money, a credit freeze can only be lifted with a PIN, while a credit lock uses “modern authentication techniques, such as username and passwords and one time passcodes for better user experience.” The Lock & Alert app is available now through the App Store and through Google Play.