Clark Howard

Equifax changes fine print for TrustedID Premier free credit monitoring

Equifax, one of the three main credit reporting companies, has faced widespread criticism over its response to a massive data breach that has exposed millions of Americans' personal information.

The Atlanta-based company announced last week that a cybersecurity incident has potentially impacted 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals gained access to sensitive data, including Social Security numbers, between May and July. Equifax said it discovered the hack on July 29 but waited more than a month to publicly announce it.

Equifax modifies TrustedID terms of use

Read more: Don’t sign up for Equifax’s free credit monitoring! Here’s what to do instead

When Equifax came forward with the news last Thursday, it set up a website,, to help consumers find out if their data may have been compromised.

That same website offers users a year of free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection with TrustedID Premier, an Equifax product. At first, the terms and conditions included arbitration language that indicated anyone who enrolled would give up their right to sue the company. Facing pressure from both politicians and consumer groups, Equifax clarified late Friday that the arbitration clause wouldn’t apply to the data breach.

There was yet another update to Equifax's data breach website early Monday morning:

"To confirm, enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection products that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not prohibit consumers from taking legal action. We have already removed that language from the Terms of Use on the site The Terms of Use on do not apply to the TrustedID Premier product being offered to consumers as a result of the cybersecurity incident. Again, to be as clear as possible, we will not apply any arbitration clause or class action waiver against consumers for claims related to the free products offered in response to the cybersecurity incident or for claims related to the cybersecurity incident itself."

I checked the updated terms of use and can confirm that the word arbitration is no longer part of the nearly 3,000-word document. Read it here.

Clark: Do not sign up for Equifax’s free credit monitoring

Money expert Clark Howard's advice remains the same: Don't enroll in TrustedID Premier. 

This data breach is so severe that the criminals will be able to use the information they’ve obtained next year, five years from now and beyond, so one year of protection isn’t enough.

“My advice is don’t go to Equifax’s website. Assume you are affected and act accordingly,” Clark said.

Clark says there are two things you should do to protect your identity:

  1. Sign up for Credit Karma's free credit monitoring to receive alerts if anything suspicious shows up on your TransUnion credit report
  2. Freeze your credit with all three main credit bureaus to restrict access to your credit report and keep the criminals out

Clark said a credit freeze is the only answer in this case. I completed the process on Friday in about 15 minutes using Clark's step-by-step guide.

Read more: Equifax breach: How to protect yourself from what’s coming next