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Color of Money: Data breaches are no laughing matter

Michelle Singletary on

Q: I have had a freeze for many years with the three major credit bureaus on my wife and myself. Should I still sign up for Equifax's free TrustedID Premier monitoring service?

Michelle: This question brings up why a freeze is better than credit monitoring.

With a credit freeze, a new creditor can't get access to your credit file. Without being able to view your credit report, the lender isn't likely to approve your credit application.

A credit monitoring service reports identity theft incidents to you after the fact. In other words, the damage could already be done. You might get a notice that someone is looking at your credit file, and you could have time to act before credit is opened in your name. But with the instant granting of credit today, notice from a credit monitoring service might not come soon enough.

Q: I registered for the TrustedID service and Equifax said I should receive an email within a few days and that I should be patient. I'd read elsewhere that it could take quite a while. Well, I received the email to finalize the registration within a few minutes! Should I be concerned?

Michelle: No, count yourself fortunate. Some people are reporting no delay. Others are still having trouble signing up.

The cartoons help provide some comic relief. But the questions I continue to get from scared consumers are no laughing matter.

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Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary). Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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