Deadline to sign up for free Equifax credit monitoring is January 31st

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If you haven't signed up for free credit monitoring from Equifax, this is your last chance. The deadline to enroll is January 31, 2018.

The one year free monitoring offer is part of the credit reporting agency's response to the massive data breach last year which compromised the sensitive information of 200 million consumers.

Go to the official Equifax website and focus on the left side of the screen that refers to the Equifax 2017 Cybersecurity Incident.

Click the orange rectangle then, on the next page, click the orange rectangle that says "Enroll Here." That's for the free credit monitoring.

You'll need to enter your last name and the last 6 digits of your social security number. Yes, I know, this is the company that exposed your information- this is how it's set up.

Once you've enrolled for monitoring- return to the main page and check the menu selections for "Lock or Freeze."

At the time this report was posted, the Equifax website said the deadline to freeze your credit at no charge on it's website was January 31, 2018. However, Equifax reportedly extended the freeze deadline at the last minute.

According to multiple published reports the new deadline for the free freeze is now June 30, 2018. KOMO news reached out to the company for confirmation but has yet to receive a reply as of this posting.

To freeze your report- click to the "Lock or Freeze" section and you see you have a choice. You can either "lock" your credit which is a newer, supposedly quicker way to lock and unlock access to your credit report almost instantly on your mobile device- or you can "freeze" your credit the old way, which simply means it'll take a few more steps to un-freeze your report if you want to apply for credit.

Both locking and freezing do essentially the same thing, but with a different process.

Some say the difference in time it takes to unfreeze your report is not that much longer than the time it takes to unlock.

Just be sure to read all the informationabout both options before you make a decision about which method you prefer.

And keep in mind that you'll need to unlock or unfreeze your credit report before you apply for a mortgage, auto loan or other consumer credit. So plan ahead.

The Federal Trade Commission also reminds you that freezing your credit with Equifax does not freeze your credit with the other credit reporting agencies. And the other agencies will charge you.

Finally, free or not, credit monitoring will not necessarily prevent you from identity theft or fraud. Credit monitoring is a tool designed to alert you suspicious activity on your account.

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