Clark Howard

Equifax data breach: Frustrated consumers report credit freeze problems

After the Equifax data breach potentially exposed 143 million Americans' personal information — including Social Security numbers — money expert Clark Howard has said a credit freeze is the #1 way to protect your identity.

However, Team Clark is hearing from people who’ve had a lot of trouble placing a credit freeze through Equifax’s website.

Read more: Equifax data breach FAQs: Answers to your biggest questions

Problems reported with Equifax’s credit freeze site

A credit freeze, which is also called a security freeze, locks down your credit and can only be lifted with a personal identification number (PIN) that you receive when you enroll.

Some people who've followed Clark's step-by-step credit freeze guide say they're running into trouble with Equifax particularly.

We’re getting reports that Equifax’s security freeze website isn’t able to process freezes during this time when so many Americans are worried about identity theft.

I can assure you that the instructions in Clark's credit freeze guide are accurate. I was able to freeze my credit with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion online in 17 minutes last Friday.

The problems people are experiencing seem to be on Equifax’s end, but the company hasn’t addressed the issue publicly.

What should you do if you’ve been unable to place a credit freeze online? Clark says you should mark your calendar for one week from today and try again. Hopefully the issue will be resolved or we’ll have more clarification.

Clark: Do not call Equifax’s help line

One thing that Clark doesn’t want you to do is call the Equifax help line listed on the company’s data breach website.

When I personally called the number to ask about Equifax waiving the fees for security freezes, the call center representative couldn't answer my question. She said she could only help me enroll in a credit monitoring service.

To be clear, Clark doesn't want you enrolling in Equifax's credit monitoring and recommends Credit Karma instead. It's 100% free.

This data breach is so severe that the criminals will be able to use this information for decades, so if you’re getting a message from Equifax that your request can’t be processed at this time — please keep trying!

Read more: Equifax hack: 5 things to expect when you freeze your credit

If you have specific questions about the Equifax breach and how it may impact you, contact Clark’s Consumer Action Center — a FREE help line open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. EST with volunteers available to answer YOUR concerns! Call Team Clark @ 404-892-8227.