>> Going out to buy a new home, you'll need it. Heading to the car lot for a shiny new set of wheels, you'll need it too. What about getting a store-branded credit card for a last minute splurge, yep, you'll need it then also. But if the massive security breach at Equifax scared you into locking or freezing your credit report to keep out the thieves, guess what?
You've also blocked yourself, and that has lenders worried. I'm Conway Gittins in New York, American household debt surged to a record $12.8 trillion in the April to June period, according to the Federal Reserve. That, of course, was before the Equifax hack was made public. Now the company is planning to make it easier for consumers to lock and unlock their credit as early as January.
And that has lenders, including banks like this one, worried that anything that puts a wall up between consumers and their love of credit will hurt them in the long run. One credit expert put it this way, banks hate credit freezes, why? They know that in the time it takes to unlock a consumer credit report, that's enough time for a second thought.
And it's not just the risk of losing small, impulsive buys that have creditors shaking in their boots. Bankers know a clock ticking at the car dealer could stop the mind thinking about how much this monthly car payment really is, prompting a possible shift to a cheaper model. Thanks to a complex and cumbersome process, only a small fraction of US consumers have a freeze or a lock on their credit right now, according to research firm Gartner.
But with headlines screaming out the risk to 143 million consumers exposed by the Equifax hack, analysts expect that number to climb. How high depends on the number of fraud incidents, and how easy it is for worried shoppers to lock and then unlock their credit.