The Equifax fee waiver means that in Washington, where lock fees are the highest, it will cost $30.95 after Nov. 21 to put a freeze on your credit at all three firms — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and $20.95 before then while the $10 Equifax fee is waived.
Data exposed in the breach, which Equifax said was discovered July 29, include names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and some driver's licence numbers, according to the company. The cyberattack, carried out by suspected criminal hackers, occurred from mid-May through July.
While a freeze is the best option to guard against fraud, it isn't headache-free. Once there's a lock on your credit, you'll need to temporarily unlock it if you need a lender to access your report.
States where you can lock your credit report for free: Colorado, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina
In some states, there is no charge for this action; in other states, you'll pay a fee, Herron said. And if you don't know which credit-reporting company the lender uses, you'll have to temporarily unlock your reports at each firm separately.
"You can ask the lender, but it might be hard to get that information," Herron said, adding that you should allow at least three days for your unlock order to take effect.
She also said that putting a lock on your report won't limit your ability to check your own credit report. Additionally, lenders you already have a relationship with can access your information even with a freeze in place.