Equifax To Offer Free Lifetime Credit Locks

The goal of Equifax’s “Lock and Alert” is to give people control over who has access to their personal credit files.

Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Starting Wednesday, people will be able to lock and unlock their credit files with Atlanta-based credit agency Equifax for free.

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It’s in response to a cyberattack that exposed sensitive information like Social Security numbers of more than 145.5 million people last year.

It’s called “Lock and Alert” and is supposed to give people control over who has access to their personal credit files.

Credit bureau expert John Ulzheimer used to work at Equifax and FICO.

“Anytime a publicly traded company chooses to give away one of its services forever at no cost, that’s a pretty big deal,” Ulzheimer said.

However, he said consumers should make sure to lock their credit files with the other two credit agencies as well, Experian and TransUnion.

“Locking your credit report with one of the reporting agencies is almost like locking one of the three doors to your house,” Ulzheimer said. “It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to just protect one of your reports and not protect all of them.”

Kennesaw State University information security professor Humayun Zafar called Equifax’s move “a Band-Aid.”

He said the company should work with its competitors Experian and TransUnion to come up with a security strategy.

“I think something proactive would be for these agencies to not merge from a corporation point of view, but definitely start figuring out if they can do a better job as a single unit, almost team up in regards to security because breaches will negatively hurt anyone in their environment,” Zafar said.

After the cyberattack, Equifax also offered free credit-monitoring services. The deadline to sign up for the yearlong credit-monitoring service is Jan. 31.