Equifax lets identity thieves raid “frozen” credit reports through its shady, obscure secondary credit bureau

Remember all that advice that I and Brian Krebs tend to give consumers about putting “freezes” on your credit reports instead of “alerts?”  The freezes are supposed to prevent entities from opening up any new lines of credit or accounts in your name.  They are supposed to prevent problems instead of just detecting problems after they’ve already occurred.

Well, so much for the peace of mind that approach might have given you. Cory Doctorow reports:

If you’ve had your identity stolen or if you’re worried about having been doxxed by Equifax, you can freeze your credit record, and then Equifax, Experian, Trans Union and Innovis will block any requests to access your credit report.

But that doesn’t really matter. Equifax operates a secondary, noncompliant credit bureau called National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE), on behalf of a secretive cartel of owners led by AT&T, but also including mysterious organizations like “Centralized Credit Check Systems.”

Freezing your credit report has no effect on NCTUE; what’s more, NCTUE operates in a careless and incompetent fashion, with invalid SSL certificates and other glaring errors. NCTUE has a separate system for freezing your credit report there, but it doesn’t work — filling in the form and submitting it just returns obscure errors. You may be able to freeze your report by calling NCTUE, but they might charge you a separate fee, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get through.

Read more on BoingBoing.

I tried to connect to the registration site, but couldn’t connect on the first try (possibly everyone trying after reading Cory’s article), but when I tried in Chrome, I got a warning that the site was insecure:

NCTUE’s security freeze registration site isn’t secure.

I would have emailed NCTUE for a press statement in response to Cory’s article and the SSL problem, but there’s no press contact on their site, it seems. Oh well…

h/t, Joe Cadillic

Update: Apologies to Brian Kreb. When I posted the above, I did not realize that he had posted an article on this earlier this morning. You can read it here.  As always, he does a great job on these stories.

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