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Social Security and Equifax: Deadly combination
Old 09-07-2019, 06:16 PM   #1
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Social Security and Equifax: Deadly combination

Sorry, long post, but condensing it would not allow you to fully share in the experience. I found this story both amusing and frustrating.

First off, I finally decided to begin taking SS at age 62, purely for the fun of blowing each check on something fun for myself and those around me. Having read threads right here on ER about how easy it was to sign up online, something like 15 minutes tops, right?
I tried to establish a SS account online but never got to the second registration screen, with no explanation. After numerous attempts over the course of about an hour, I called the SS helpline and after about 40 minutes listening to some cool easy listening tunes, a friendly person tells me, "Oh, you probably have your credit locked, so we cannot access the Equifax database to ask you some key questions to confirm you are you." She's says I will have to unlock my credit for the online SS registration process to proceed.
Ok, I am retired with lots of free time. Off I go to contact my friends at Equifax. Any of you with personal experience dealing with Equifax will recognize my tongue in cheek. After getting placed on hold for about 20 minutes, the Equifax rep apologized profusely and said they would need to verify my identification by asking a few questions. One of the questions was, "when did you complete your first credit freeze?" I don't know the answer to this question, maybe 10 years ago. So I flunked their verification test. No kidding! She recommended I establish an online "myequifax.com" account, whereupon I can take care of credit freeze and unfreeze easy peasy. After a short break to take a nap, I attempt to create a "myequifax.com" account. I type in all kinds of very sensitive data and get to the "submit" button. The next screen says "we are unable to process your application at this time. Please try again later." No reason as to why the machine could not complete my application.
Now I am fully committed to this adventure.
I call back to the help line and another very pleasant rep gives me a number to call to resolve this issue. I call this number, but it turns out to be another roboperson asking me the same question that I failed miserably answering earlier in part one of this saga.
So I return to the Equifax website and I notice a little "chat now" button. Almost a real human to communicate with, I am delighted! I type in my issue and am immediately told to call back that previous number and, when prompted, enter one, then three, then O. I do as my chatbot friend instructed and, whoopie, I get a real human! I explain my desire to unlock my credit for a few days so I can start my SS. Meanwhile, the DW has actually found a hard copy of what quite possible was our first time freezing the credit. Good thing she collects that kind of stuff, because I do not. When the young lady gets to the dubious question, I proudly spit out the date and after a brief pause, she announces "I have now validated you are who you are, I can help you lift your credit for a week. After about two minutes she said "all done, your confirmation number is xxxxxxxxxx." I am truly elated.
Now, back to the SS website to get my much-deserved compensation. Remember, that was my initial quest after all. I dutifully type in all the sensitive information, and get through the two or three screens and finally get to the "submit" Bam! I get a message that says. "We are sorry that we cannot complete your application. Please try again in 24 hours." Twenty four hours. WTF?
I guess an appointment at the SS office is inevitable.
My day is shot, time for dinner and a little pickleball to unwind the knot in my brain.
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Old 09-07-2019, 07:58 PM   #2
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When you did your credit freeze, you should have received a paper letter/confirmation in the mail indicating a PIN and instructions for unfreezing. I'm guessing you did not save this letter. I have all of mine in an envelope in the safe. Freezing/unfreezing is now a simple/straightforward process these days with all of the bureaus ... if you have your PIN.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:06 PM   #3
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Save, save, save all the data associated with freezing your credit. It comes up when you least expect it. Without it, good luck.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:07 PM   #4
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Interesting......

I locked down both mine and DH credit with the “Big 3” a few years back. I know they’re locked because when we bought a new car last year, even tho we were paying cash, they insisted they had to do a credit check. I told them I didn’t have the info with me to unlock our credit and they’d have to figure out a way around it, if they wanted to sell the car. After a couple hours, they finally figured something out to make them happy. All I know is I didn’t unlock anything.

Fast forward to this spring, DH applied online for SS with no issues and no need to unlock his credit.

I wonder what the difference was?
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:12 PM   #5
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I froze after the "big hit" and never unfroze. Never saved anything. Why bother?

Car dealer - "We can't access your credit, did you freeze"

Yup, I'll pay cash.

I'm never gonna unfreeze. Ever. I have a half mill credit line with my broker.
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:06 AM   #6
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Absolutely keep your pin. Also, it is worth getting a copy of your report just so you can answer those stupid multiple choice questions about your credit that identity versifiers use.
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Old 09-08-2019, 02:00 PM   #7
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ran into this Catch22 scenario recently. Trying to apply for the wife's SS. Here's the catch - we've never frozen our credit! So they referred us to Equifax to find any problems and reset our online application. So we logged in to Equifax and ended up calling them as well I think. Signed up, logged in, checked credit. No alerts, no problems. All wide open.

Went back to the SS website, tried signing in again. Locked out. Haven't called back yet, need to work up to the beatdown that is the horrific wait times and hold music....
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Old 09-08-2019, 02:26 PM   #8
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Glad that we already had SS accounts established before we froze our credit. Actually, DH had to go to the local SS office to finished setting up his account as there was some kind of identity verification issue.
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:34 PM   #9
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Just ran into the exact same nonsense trying to establish a "My SS" account for DW on Friday. We wanted to check her earnings history and estimated future benefits. We were on hold for an hour and twenty minutes before we could talk to someone from the SS office. Ran into the same Equifax BS explanation. Equifax showed no issues. Why SS is tied in with a sleazy outfit like Equifax in the first place is really concerning. Anyway, the easiest way I can see to get around this is to go directly to a SS office so we can prove identity with a picture ID. We'll wee how that goes.
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Old 09-08-2019, 11:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KM View Post
I locked down both mine and DH credit with the “Big 3” a few years back. I know they’re locked because when we bought a new car last year, even tho we were paying cash, they insisted they had to do a credit check. I told them I didn’t have the info with me to unlock our credit and they’d have to figure out a way around it, if they wanted to sell the car. After a couple hours, they finally figured something out to make them happy. All I know is I didn’t unlock anything.

Got a chuckle out of this. Had the same experience two weeks ago buying a new car for cash. Sales person informed me that they would have to run a credit check. I stated that we had frozen our credit several years ago, thawed once and refroze, and I’m certainly not going to go down that path again on a cash purchase. Salesperson had never heard of freezing one’s credit but stated there was no way around it and it was really there to “protect me” (whatever that was supposed to mean). Fine, I’ll just sign a waiver agreeing to remain unprotected. I ain’t thawing. Salesperson went to talk to sales manager, returned with “I guess you you won’t have to do that thawing thing.”

Seems there was a way around it after all. In my case it took all of about 5 minutes!
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Old 09-09-2019, 05:07 AM   #11
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Folks, unlocking your credit takes 30 seconds in most cases, IF you have your info saved.
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:13 AM   #12
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Folks, unlocking your credit takes 30 seconds in most cases, IF you have your info saved.
This is not always true. Have you tried it lately? I froze mine at the time of the last data breach. I kept careful notes. A little over a year ago I applied for a credit card and had to un-freeze my account at Equifax. It really was easy using the PIN I'd saved. A few weeks ago I was applying for another card and nothing worked. I tried repeatedly. It kept telling me I could reset my password by clicking on a link to send an e-mail, blah, blah, blah... none ever arrived and I did check my Spam folder. The remedy if you didn't get it? Click again on the same link. I finally called someone and she said there was a problem with my account. She said she'd fixed it. No, she hadn't. I called again. I needed to fax them a cover letter with my name, birth date, SSN, and a paragraph explaining my issue AND a copy of my driver's license. Oh, goody. Send more info to a company that had had a well-publicized major data breach. I did and the credit card has been approved but now I can't get back into one of my other accounts unless I mail them a package similar to what Equifax demanded.

Another Board I'm on has multiple posts from people with similar hassles. Our theory is that now that they can't charge to freeze and un-freeze credit they make it a real PITA to discourage it.

I'm not applying for another credit card unless they offer enough miles for unrestricted Business Class airfare to Europe and no annual fee.
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:11 AM   #13
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This is not always true. Have you tried it lately? I froze mine at the time of the last data breach. I kept careful notes. A little over a year ago I applied for a credit card and had to un-freeze my account at Equifax. It really was easy using the PIN I'd saved. A few weeks ago I was applying for another card and nothing worked. I tried repeatedly. It kept telling me I could reset my password by clicking on a link to send an e-mail, blah, blah, blah... none ever arrived and I did check my Spam folder. The remedy if you didn't get it? Click again on the same link. I finally called someone and she said there was a problem with my account. She said she'd fixed it. No, she hadn't. I called again. I needed to fax them a cover letter with my name, birth date, SSN, and a paragraph explaining my issue AND a copy of my driver's license. Oh, goody. Send more info to a company that had had a well-publicized major data breach. I did and the credit card has been approved but now I can't get back into one of my other accounts unless I mail them a package similar to what Equifax demanded.

Another Board I'm on has multiple posts from people with similar hassles. Our theory is that now that they can't charge to freeze and un-freeze credit they make it a real PITA to discourage it.

I'm not applying for another credit card unless they offer enough miles for unrestricted Business Class airfare to Europe and no annual fee.
Yes, I just did it. I asked for a credit line increase on my CC for travel purposes. I found out they do a hard inquiry at TransUnion. I signed into my True Identity account. There’s big button that says “unfreeze”. I hit it. I got my credit increase the next day. I went back in and refroze it.
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:29 AM   #14
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We recently bought a new car with cash. I paid the max they would allow with a cash-back credit card (I think it was $5K). For the rest, they would accept a personal check only if I unfroze one of the credit bureaus so they could "positively verify my identity." I put up a small fight but ultimately gave in. So the day we took delivery, I went online and did a 24-hour unfreeze/refreeze using my PIN. Could not have been simpler. It saved me a $10 fee and a trip to the bank for a cashiers check.
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:54 AM   #15
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Yes, I just did it. I asked for a credit line increase on my CC for travel purposes. I found out they do a hard inquiry at TransUnion. I signed into my True Identity account. There’s big button that says “unfreeze”. I hit it. I got my credit increase the next day. I went back in and refroze it.
I also found TransUnion straightforward. It was Equifax that was a PITA.
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Social Security and Equifax: Deadly combination
Old 09-09-2019, 08:44 AM   #16
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Social Security and Equifax: Deadly combination

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Originally Posted by Cobra9777 View Post
We recently bought a new car with cash. I paid the max they would allow with a cash-back credit card (I think it was $5K). For the rest, they would accept a personal check only if I unfroze one of the credit bureaus so they could "positively verify my identity." I put up a small fight but ultimately gave in. So the day we took delivery, I went online and did a 24-hour unfreeze/refreeze using my PIN. Could not have been simpler. It saved me a $10 fee and a trip to the bank for a cashiers check.


FWIW, I learned that when pay by check it authorizes the seller to check your credit. I don’t have credit locked but I bought a car for cash last year and explicitly told the dealer not to check my credit because we were in the middle of a mortgage refi. They said OK. I would’ve financed directly through the credit union but decided to write a check instead. Three weeks later I got a notification they had pulled my credit report. I was furious but I had authorized it by writing a check. Did not affect the refi.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:48 AM   #17
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Equifax is incompetent. I have the freeze/thaw documented here. With the data saved in LastPass, it's really easy for the other two, but Equifax has been "broken"; never worked without calling.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:54 AM   #18
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I also found TransUnion straightforward. It was Equifax that was a PITA.
Good to know.
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:33 AM   #19
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I have always used the 800 telephone numbers to Unfreeze my credit without issue. I figured that it would be a much simpler process(ie no login ID, no password that may need changing, no security questions etc) assuming that I had my PIN. YMMV.

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Old 09-09-2019, 11:32 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by cbo111 View Post
Sorry, long post, but condensing it would not allow you to fully share in the experience. I found this story both amusing and frustrating.

First off, I finally decided to begin taking SS at age 62, purely for the fun of blowing each check on something fun for myself and those around me. Having read threads right here on ER about how easy it was to sign up online, something like 15 minutes tops, right?
I tried to establish a SS account online but never got to the second registration screen, with no explanation. After numerous attempts over the course of about an hour, I called the SS helpline and after about 40 minutes listening to some cool easy listening tunes, a friendly person tells me, "Oh, you probably have your credit locked, so we cannot access the Equifax database to ask you some key questions to confirm you are you." She's says I will have to unlock my credit for the online SS registration process to proceed.
Ok, I am retired with lots of free time. Off I go to contact my friends at Equifax. Any of you with personal experience dealing with Equifax will recognize my tongue in cheek. After getting placed on hold for about 20 minutes, the Equifax rep apologized profusely and said they would need to verify my identification by asking a few questions. One of the questions was, "when did you complete your first credit freeze?" I don't know the answer to this question, maybe 10 years ago. So I flunked their verification test. No kidding! She recommended I establish an online "myequifax.com" account, whereupon I can take care of credit freeze and unfreeze easy peasy. After a short break to take a nap, I attempt to create a "myequifax.com" account. I type in all kinds of very sensitive data and get to the "submit" button. The next screen says "we are unable to process your application at this time. Please try again later." No reason as to why the machine could not complete my application.
Now I am fully committed to this adventure.
I call back to the help line and another very pleasant rep gives me a number to call to resolve this issue. I call this number, but it turns out to be another roboperson asking me the same question that I failed miserably answering earlier in part one of this saga.
So I return to the Equifax website and I notice a little "chat now" button. Almost a real human to communicate with, I am delighted! I type in my issue and am immediately told to call back that previous number and, when prompted, enter one, then three, then O. I do as my chatbot friend instructed and, whoopie, I get a real human! I explain my desire to unlock my credit for a few days so I can start my SS. Meanwhile, the DW has actually found a hard copy of what quite possible was our first time freezing the credit. Good thing she collects that kind of stuff, because I do not. When the young lady gets to the dubious question, I proudly spit out the date and after a brief pause, she announces "I have now validated you are who you are, I can help you lift your credit for a week. After about two minutes she said "all done, your confirmation number is xxxxxxxxxx." I am truly elated.
Now, back to the SS website to get my much-deserved compensation. Remember, that was my initial quest after all. I dutifully type in all the sensitive information, and get through the two or three screens and finally get to the "submit" Bam! I get a message that says. "We are sorry that we cannot complete your application. Please try again in 24 hours." Twenty four hours. WTF?
I guess an appointment at the SS office is inevitable.
My day is shot, time for dinner and a little pickleball to unwind the knot in my brain.
I find it ironic that a government entity has to use a private company (equifax) to verify identity- I know the IRS uses a similar process.

The issue is that the credit bureaus don't always have accurate information. For example, if the question is "where have you lived"- how does equifax know the difference between where I have lived, and what addresses did the post office (a government entity) give a private bank?

this is a trick question, because if the account was dual (ex wife and I) and the bill was forwarded to her address when we separated, I never lived there. The credit bureaus told the IRS I did, and the postal service told the banks I did, and the banks told the credit bureaus I did.

My credit has been like this for 7 years and the banks have not fixed it yet.

For the people which state a website was broken, which browser were you using (chrome, Firefox, or IE, or apple/safari)?
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