Rego Barros, interim CEO of Equifax apologized to consumers in a Wall Street Journal article about the recent Equifax data breach. He also apologized for ensuing problems with insufficient support for consumers such as a non properly functioning website a call center that couldn’t manage the volume of calls received.
In the apology he proceeded to also offer consumers free lock and unlock options for life.
“By Jan. 31, Equifax will offer a new service allowing all consumers the option of controlling access to their personal credit data. The service we are developing will let consumers easily lock and unlock access to their Equifax credit files. You will be able to do this at will. It will be reliable, safe and simple. Most significantly, the service will be offered free, for life.”
He also added that they “are extending free credit freezes and free sign-up period for TrustedID Premier through the end of January.”
So to sum that up, you get free credit freezes until the end of January and free lock and unlock options for life. The two seem similar, but there’s a small difference.
A security freeze offers more protection than a credit lock because it requires a PIN to unfreeze as well as verification of identity. With a credit lock, your password is all that’s needed to unlock your credit report and allow creditors access. Furthermore, a “lock” is a product/service offered by a credit bureau to registered customers that claims to offer the same level of security as a freeze, but it can’t be really verified.
As KrebsonSecurity reports, consumers in all states have a right to freeze their credit files, and that’s the best option. On the other hand, a lock does not prevent the bureaus from selling your credit reports to anyone who comes asking for them (including ID thieves); and consumers who opt for them over freezes must agree to receive a flood of marketing offers from a myriad of credit bureau industry partners.