As a lender, dealing with credit issues is part of the business. But the announcement of the Equifax credit data breach in September 2017, created a new issue (meaning headache) for lenders. Under the advisement of Equifax itself and many credit experts, those consumers directly affected by the breach were instructed to place a freeze on their credit reports in order to prevent any unauthorized credit activity. For lenders of all varieties, including us mortgage guys, prior to obtaining any new credit for our clients they must authorize reporting bureaus to lift that freeze.
Consumers have several options to unfreeze credit. Authorizing One-time access allows a specific creditor to check the file, putting in for a temporary lift allows multiple creditors access during a specified time period, and a opting for a permanent removal opens credit reports until a new freeze is requested.
To remove or place a credit freeze, I have put together the following resources for each credit reporting bureau:
Experian: Visit www.experian.com/freeze. Call 1-888-397-3742. Or request by mail: Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax: Visit www.freeze.equifax.com. Call 1-800-685-1111 (New York residents call 1-800-349-9960). Request by mail: Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348
TransUnion: Visit freeze.transunion.com. Call 1-888-909-8872. Request by mail: TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Currently Equifax is waiving fees to freeze and unfreeze credit through January 31, 2018. All other fees will vary by state and by credit bureau.
For mortgage lending, Fannie Mae is trying to accommodate the breaches such as the one Equifax experienced. As of mid-November 2017 Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriting AUS will allow a credit decision to be rendered with 2 credit profiles. Meaning if the borrower put a freeze on only their Equifax report, an AUS credit decision can be issued without the freeze being lifted; thus saving time and money.
In today’s hot market, any delay can put your buyer client at risk of losing out on a potential home purchase. Make sure your buyer clients are getting pre-approved as early as possible to identify any issues - including the potential problem of having their credit frozen.