If you want to freeze your Equifax credit report for free, you better do it soon.
Remember that epic Equifax hack last year? The hack exposed the personal data of 145 million adults in the United States, and chances are good that you were probably one of them. At the time, experts recommended those that were affected freeze their credit at all three major reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian as a way to protect your credit should someone decide to use that stolen information. As an apology of sorts for the screw up, Equifax offered to let affected customers do that for free , but only until January 31st.
Freezing your credit essentially prevents lenders from being to access your report, which means they also won’t issue you a new credit card or loan while it’s on lockdown. It doesn’t effect your credit score or your existing accounts, just your ability to open new ones.
If you haven’t done it yet, you can freeze your Equifax credit report by going to this site or by contacting Equifax on the phone. 800-685-1111 is its automated service line and 888-298-0045 will connect you with one of its customer care agents. For time purposes, the web is probably your best bet here.
Worth noting: doing this only freezes your credit report at Equifax, not the other two agencies. Freezing your credit report at the other two still costs money, but you are able to “lock” your TransUnion account for free, which offers some of the same protections as freezing.
And it might not be that way forever. There are currently a few bills on the table to require credit reporting agencies to give customers one free freeze and unfreeze of their credit each year. Unfortunately, so far none of those bills have passed.