Equifax is one of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, alongside Experian and TransUnion. They offer Equifax credit monitoring and identity theft protection services in a variety of different plans aimed to fit different individuals.
Equifax was in the news in 2017 when they were subjected to a massive data breach that affected over 148 million people.
The information stolen included credit card numbers, Social security numbers, and even driver’s licenses, leaving their customers vulnerable to identity theft.
Despite the seriousness of this breach, they waited six weeks before informing customers and the public in general.
They also didn’t offer to reimburse any of the victims, though a recent class-action lawsuit resulted in victims getting at least some form of compensation.
If you’re willing to overlook their poor reputation and unwillingness to improve security after the attack, Equifax is worth considering.
It does offer a reasonably good selection of services and products for both identity theft protection and credit monitoring.
Equifax offers three main plans aimed at different consumers.
The ID Patrol Plan
The ID Patrol plan includes credit monitoring from all three credit bureaus, an annual credit report from three bureaus and up to $ 1 million identity theft insurance.
This plan is excellent if you’re interested in improving your credit score, as it gives you information from all three credit bureaus regularly.
The Equifax Complete Premier Plan
The Equifax Complete Premier plan comes with everything offered by the ID Patrol plan.
It also comes with a daily Equifax credit score, however, and financial alerts that will notify you if your credit details have changed significantly.
This change may be in the event of a change of address, or a new account opened in your name.
The Equifax Complete Family Plan
The final service is the Equifax Complete Family Plan. This plan contains the same features as the Complete Premier offering but gives access to Equifax’s credit monitoring services for another adult, and up to four children.
This plan can cover the credit monitoring needs of an entire family and is an affordable and appealing option if you live in a household with multiple adults and children.
An important thing to note is that while Equifax claims to provide reports from all three credit bureaus, this information isn’t a direct report from either TransUnion or Experian.
All three credit bureaus use their customized formulas to work out a credit score.
Equifax takes your data from TransUnion and Experian and applies its unique calculation to it.
This information means that the conclusions they reach about your credit score may not accurately reflect your true TransUnion and Experian credit score.
What Sets Equifax Apart?
Equifax offers many of the standard features found in both TransUnion and Experian credit monitoring services.
However, they do offer two online tools that can help prevent identity theft, namely a credit freeze and fraud alerts.
Using Equifax’s online app, you can prevent unauthorized access to your credit report.
This convenience helps keep your credit record private but also prevents identity thieves from using your identity to open a new credit card.
It’s a good practice to freeze your credit even if you feel safe that your identity is secure.
What’s good about the credit freeze function is that it’s easily reversible using the online app as well.
So when you apply for credit, you can unfreeze your credit report and re-freeze it once the loan or credit has been approved.
You have a wide variety of options when it comes to setting up a security freeze.
You can do it online, via the phone or even by mail, and you can reverse the freeze in the same manner.
It’s a flexible system that helps prevent the early stages of identity theft from escalating.
A fraud alert is a slightly more relaxed version of a credit freeze.
It allows creditors to access your credit report, but they have to confirm your identity before opening new credit or extending existing credit in your name.
This alert means that you don’t have to go through the effort of constantly unfreezing your credit, but you still get decent security if someone tries to steal your identity.
Fraud alerts can be set up via email, phone, or even online, and last for up to one year.
If you want to place a more extended fraud alert, you need to fill in a form that proves that you’re a victim of identity theft.
How Much Does it Cost?
Equifax’s plans are subscription-based, meaning that you pay a monthly fee that gives you access to the service.
You can cancel it at any time once you feel that you don’t need it anymore.
As of 3/26/21:
- The Complete Premier plan costs $19.95 per month
- The Family Plan also costs $19.95 per month
These plans are competitively priced and have enough features to meet the need of even the most experienced credit monitoring veteran. The only difference in the plans is that the Family Plan includes an additional adult and Equifax credit monitoring for up to 4 children.
Equifax also offers a free 7-day trial that gives you access to the Complete Premier plan services.
If you don’t cancel this service within seven days, you are billed automatically for the first month of the Equifax Complete Premier plan.
Make sure to keep track of how much free time you have left, so that you don’t get nasty surprises.
Equifax Customer Satisfaction
Equifax has a poor reputation among its customers for a variety of valid reasons. One of the main reasons is a result of the 2017 breach, and how it was handled.
The event left many clients distrusting of Equifax, and a few decided to leave the company entirely.
As part of the settlement filed in July 2019, Equifax has to update its security protocol. They also had to increase customer information protection measures, which may prevent further breaches happening in the future.
Quite a few recent customers also report problems with Equifax and their customer service, however.
At the moment, the Better Business Bureau has not rated Equifax, but the site lists over 4,000 complaints filed in the last three years, of which only 977 have been adequately addressed in the last twelve months.
This rating is reflective of the overall view of customers regarding Equifax. Many people have issues with Equifax’s billing and collections as well as problems with their products. And Equifax’s customer service leaves many of these problems unresolved.
All these issues point to an unrepentant company that has not learned its lesson from the devastating 2017 data security breach.
They are still surprisingly opaque in their customer interactions. And many of their clients admit that their concerns remain unresolved for months, if not years.
Will YOU Choose Equifax?
Of the three credit monitoring agencies, it’s likely that Equifax has the worst reputation.
However, if you disregard that fact, their products are decent value for money. Their services include useful tools if you’re looking to work on your credit score, too.
Whether you choose Equifax will depend on whether you trust them with your information. And whether you’re willing to work with a company that has such a bad reputation for both their customer service and customer security.
There are at least two options that are better. And if you are at all risk-averse, it may be worthwhile looking elsewhere.