Friday, December 4, 2020

Freeze your credit reports? Easier said than done.

     You may have read Monday’s column about how the state of Illinois notified me I was about to receive unemployment assistance I hadn’t applied for and aren’t entitled to, being one of those lucky ducks who still has a job. (In newspapering; go figure. That’s like computer programmers getting laid off while lacemakers get promoted.)
     Everyone offered the same one-size-fits-all advice: Freeze your credit with the three credit agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
     I was hesitant. “Freeze your credit report” struck me as one of those directives, like “take the hajj to Mecca” far easier to suggest than to do.
     Reader, I went on the Equifax website. Maybe I was still in shock, but filling out the form didn’t work. I had to join first. So I joined, then gave up, applying my general unplug/reboot/wait philosophy so effective when coping with technology.
     A few days later I tried again. Clicked on Equifax, then on the snowflake. (Get it? A freeze.) Soon, was busily sharing the information whose dissemination got me in trouble in the first place.
     Forms to fill out, all the while batting away offers to put myself on the hook for additional services I neither want nor need. Freezing credit is like renting a car. You just want the car, but they want to sell you redundant insurance and a complicated gasoline program. Even if you’re vigilant, you might end up with an unnecessary baby seat costing $4.95 a day. But a steady and emphatic “no, no, no” usually works.

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  1. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have a visceral reaction to this story. One sort of expects byzantine forms, contradictory instructions and crude websites from government entities, but huge companies presumably with gigantic computer departments, are quite capable of baffling college graduates by the thousands and not above sneaking in unwanted services with hard to cancel charges. The snowflake. I wonder who copied whom.


  2. I would've given up long before you did. Nothing is easy anymore. There is no "customer service". I want to contact AT&T with a question about my TV service. I think I'll stick my head in the oven instead. It would be a more pleasant experience.

  3. Hilarious, as long as all is well.

  4. Nice job of plowing through the process. I gave up in frustration and I still get emails about their services to protect my credit.


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