It is common advice that we should freeze our credit if we’ve had our identity stolen or if we’re worried because our personal information, including our SSN, is exposed on the dark web due to the Equifax breach. The supposed result of that action is that Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis (a lesser known, smaller credit bureau) will block any requests to access our credit and prevent fraudulent accounts from being opened in our name. Unfortunately, continuing reports of fraudulent accounts being opened despite credit freezes being in place prompted an investigation with the following discoveries.
Carrie Kerskie, the director of the Identity Fraud Institute at Hodges University in Naples, as part of her job, helps local residents respond to identity theft and fraud complaints. Kerskie said she’s had multiple victims in her area recently complain of having cell phone accounts opened in their names even though they had already frozen their credit files at Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis.
According to identity theft expert, Brian Krebs, in his Krebs On Security blog, those credit freezes don’t always really matter. This is because Equifax operates a secondary, noncompliant credit bureau called National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE), on behalf of a cartel of owners led by AT&T.
Krebs took it on himself to research NCTUE and here are his comments on trying to freeze your credit report at NCTUE.
“The NCTUE also offers an online process for freezing one’s report. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, the process for ordering a freeze through the NCTUE appears to be completely borked at the moment, thanks no doubt to Equifax’s well documented abysmal security practices.”
“Alternatively, it could all be part of a willful or negligent strategy to continue discouraging Americans from freezing their credit files (experts say the bureaus make about $1 for each time they sell your file to a potential creditor).”
“So let’s review. Many people who have succeeded in freezing their credit files with Equifax have nonetheless had their identities stolen and new accounts opened in their names thanks to a lesser-known credit bureau that seems to rely entirely on credit checking entities operated by Equifax.”
Folks, I think Kerskie said it well, “This just reinforces the fact that we are no longer in control of our information.” And LibertyID’s Paul Ferron made an even stronger point, “We should not let a credit freeze or credit alert lull us into a false sense of security that you can prevent identity theft. The fact is – you can only position yourself to recover from identity theft.”
The bottom line is there’s really no better time than the present to become a LibertyID member. LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*Extended families – primary individual, their spouse/partner, both sets of parents (including those that have been deceased for up to a year), and all children under the age of 25