Credit freeze frustration: Why it's so hard to get

If you have tried signing up for the Equifax free credit monitoring, or any credit freeze in recent days, you may have hit a road bump.

One woman is more than frustrated trying to lock up her credit file without paying a fortune, and wonders if the big credit agencies are trying to profit from the big Equifax data breach.

No luck getting through

Kathy Payne said she and many of her friends have been struggling to sign up for Equifax's free credit monitoring, but have had little luck.

"They keep getting knocked off the website, it freezes up, and no one I know has been able to get through on the phone either,"  she said.

So she decided to get a one-time credit freeze at all three credit bureaus, which she has heard is better than monitoring, as it prevents anyone from accessing your files and applying for credit.

But Payne soon discovered that signing up for a credit freeze is not as easy as it first seems.

Where is the credit freeze page?

"I went to TransUnion first, and I can't get anywhere except a page that's offering monitoring for $19.95 a month."

A credit freeze, under an agreement between the credit bureaus and states, should cost just a one time fee of $5 to $10 (and it should be free for ID theft victims).

But Payne says everything she tried at TransUnion led to a paid service, for $19.95 a month, or over $200 a year.

"Every tab TransUnion offers across their website, every tab takes you to the same page for $19.95 a month," Payne said.

Others have noticed it too. Veteran consumer advocate Bob Sullivan, of BobSullivan.net and "The Red Tape Chronicles," claims TransUnion has very recently made it tougher to find their credit freeze page.

He says the bureau now pushes you to their "credit lock," which is similar to a freeze, but gives you smartphone access and some other features.  It is also more expensive, with a monthly fee.

Sullivan cites one man who tried to get a simple monthly freeze set up, but is now trapped into paying $20 a month to TransUnion for a service he didn't want.

Kathy Payne says she won't pay that.  "We already have some other ID theft monitoring though AAA and Credit Karma, and for now I feel like that's good enough," she said.

Easier way to find it

If you are frustrated in your attempt to set up a freeze, try Google, as opposed to starting at credit bureau websites.

If you Google "TransUnion credit freeze," (and avoid the paid listings at the top of the search page) you can find their elusive credit freeze page. 

So if you cannot find the freeze page at Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion, try the back door Google approach.

And that freeze should cost only $10, so you don't waste your money.

NOTE:  These deals were valid as of Monday September 25,2017, but could change at any time. 

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