There has been a great deal of confusion regarding arbitration and class-action waivers for those signing up for the Equifax credit monitoring offer. According to the Equifax website and subsequent news reports, the company never intended for these waiver clauses to apply to the hacking incident. They have since clarified that the clauses in question would not apply to consumers who sign up for their offer in response to the hack.
There are two courses of action that you might consider:
1. Some taxpayers (including Georgia) are eligible to create an IP PIN number through the IRS. This is a unique six-digit number assigned by the IRS that serves to protect your taxpayer identity and keeps others from filing fraudulent tax returns in your name. For details on obtaining an IP PIN, visit the IRS web site here
. NOTE: If you choose to do this, your credit can be undergoing monitoring, but cannot be frozen. You will need to “unfreeze” your credit while the IRS is assigning your IP PIN.
2. Also, you may choose to not accept any offers from Equifax for credit monitoring but instead “freeze” your credit and/or purchase a credit monitoring service on your own. By freezing your credit no one (including you) can open an account or take out a loan in your name. As mentioned in this article
by Clark Howard, this is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from identity theft. According to the article, a credit freeze prevents someone from getting your credit reports. Should you need to open an account (for example to take out a car loan) you can temporarily “unfreeze” your information.
If you choose to freeze your credit reports, remember to freeze with all three reporting bureaus. You will need to contact them personally to request the freeze. There is a cost ranging from $3 to $10 per person depending on the bureau. There may be a nominal charge when you need to unfreeze your credit. Here are the telephone numbers for the three bureaus:
Note that if you choose to request an IP PIN from the IRS, you will need to do that (and receive the number) prior to freezing your credit. You can, however, immediately subscribe to credit monitoring.
For more ways to contact the three reporting bureaus please click on the link to Clark Howard’s article mentioned above.
All of us at Smith & Howard Wealth Management take your security very seriously. If you have questions or if we can help, please contact Lisa Curles
or Rob Kaercher
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