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Applying for an equity line? Unfreeze your credit files first: Money Matters

July 15, 2018

Applying for an equity line? Unfreeze your credit files first: Money Matters

Q: We applied for a line of credit with KeyBank. I got a call from them later in the day that my credit file is frozen. I froze with Equifax on Feb. 15, 2015, for 90 days. I think we are past that point. Equifax’s letter at the time said they would also contact the other two credit agencies.

The problem is the two phone numbers I have have the same automated menu with no option for UNFREEZING or speaking to a PERSON. Can you help me? I want all three agencies unfrozen.

D.W., Cleveland

A: First, I believe you’ve confused a freeze and a fraud alert. It sounds like you have both. Fraud alerts can be placed for 90 days. Credit freezes don’t expire until you request the freeze to be thawed temporarily or permanently.

When you place a fraud alert for 90 days with one bureau, that bureau will notify the other two. When you freeze your file, you have to do it with each bureau individually.

Freezes can be a great way to help you sleep better at night, knowing that thieves cannot open new accounts in your name. But if you want to thaw your file temporarily because you’re applying for a loan or credit card or something else that requires a credit check, you need your PIN that was created when you froze the files.

If you’ve lost your PIN, the bureaus do offer ways for you to recover it. At Experian, you can get your PIN online if you answer a number of multiple-choice questions that are based on information in your credit file, such as the name of a street you lived on long ago, or the amount of an auto loan you have or had.

https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/removefreeze Or call 1-888-397 3742 to have it mailed to you.

Equifax and TransUnion don’t offer this option. You have to contact them in writing and mail in documentation of your identity and address.

Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, Georgia, 30348TransUnion, Attn: Security Freeze, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

The bureaus generally ask for a photocopy of your driver’s license or state ID or passport, a copy of a utility bill or insurance or bank statement (with details redacted), and a photocopy of your Social Security card.

https://help.equifax.com/s/article/How-do-I-replace-a-lost-security-freeze-PIN

https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/credit-freeze-faq.page

https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/replacing-a-lost-security-freeze-pin-number/

Q: I read your column faithfully and I wanted to share a lesson I learned to help your readers learn the easy way vs. the hard way.

I booked a bachelorette getaway for my daughter to Orlando because of the great flight deal we saw with Allegiant Airlines. The trip was planned around this flight, which was affordable for my daughters at $184.50, which included a carry-on bag.

The flight was scheduled to depart June 21 at 4:33 p.m. At 12:43 p.m., I received a text that the flight was cancelled. I also received an email saying a $175 gesture of goodwill will be sent to all passengers booked for that flight.

We scrambled and could not find any flight from Akron/Canton nor Cleveland to Orlando or Orlando Sanford airport for Thursday or Friday morning and had to settle for a $580 flight to Tampa. Relatives drove from Orlando to pick us up in Tampa to take us to Orlando.

Fearing last-minute cancellations on our return June 24, we cancelled the Allegiant flight and booked with another carrier. That was a $225 flight. I spoke with a representative at Allegiant (I got her name) and was told that the airline feels that the inconvenience fee and refunded flight is adequate compensation and they will not help with our added flight costs. They are reimbursing everyone the same amount.

Our cheap get-away flight that was originally $184.50 resulted in a $472 flight. Had I known it was going to be such a headache, I would have booked with a trusted carrier and paid the higher rate vs. dealing with the anxiety and stress (and family inconvenience of picking us up in Tampa) than with the cheaper carrier Allegiant.

B.M., Parma

A: Wow. What a tale. That’s one of the things that makes me nervous: When you think you’re getting a deal on something — anything — there could be an issue that comes back to bite you later. Thanks for sharing.

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