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Color of Money: Data breaches are no laughing matter

Michelle Singletary on

Equifax: No, the site is not blocked to people overseas. However, there are some situations where an IP address may be restricted, due to where the person lives.

Q: I took advantage of the Equifax-offered credit lock. However, from my research, it appears that I would also need to lock my credit with Experian and TransUnion, and it does not seem that Equifax covers me for those costs (Experian is $25 a month!) Do you have any suggestions or know how others are dealing with this?

Michelle: Right now, Equifax is waiving the fee to get a freeze, but it only covers your file at that bureau. You can also get a free lock on your credit file at Equifax.

But one freeze or credit lock does not work for all. You have to get a freeze or lock at each credit bureau.

To get access to the free freeze at Equifax, go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Be sure to elect for a freeze, not a lock. You can't do both.

Consumer experts advise opting for a freeze because the rules for it are state regulated. A lock is a feature offered by the credit bureaus, which essentially does the same thing as a freeze, but the rules of how it works are dictated by the credit bureau.

You can freeze your Experian report at www.experian.com/freeze/center.html. Do the same with TransUnion at

freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp

While you're at it, also freeze your report at a fourth, smaller bureau, Innovis: www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze.

You might also consider putting a freeze on at the consumer agency ChexSystems: http://wapo.st/2l0qEwv. This is the bureau that financial institutions use to verify that you have a good history of managing bank or credit-union accounts.

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