Equifax victims may face another hassle in buying an iPhone
CUPERTINO (AP) — Apple fans that froze their credit after the Equifax data breach may end up with another hassle on their hands if they try to get one of the new iPhones that can cost more than $1,000. People who rushed to lock down their credit and want to make any other big purchases may find the same inconveniences.
Since Equifax disclosed that 143 million Americans had their Social Security numbers and other personal data hacked, experts have encouraged people who may affected to put in place what’s known as a credit freeze. That locks down a person’s credit from being stolen by identity thieves — but could also mean delays and more fees for Equifax victims who want to finance a new phone.
You can unfreeze your credit before a big purchase and freeze it again afterward. How long it will take and how much it costs vary state by state. Experts say generally it’s best to give the major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax — notice of several hours or even a few days before you apply for financing. And people just getting used to the idea of freezing their credit could pay $3 to $10 for each action at each of the three bureaus.
Payment plans are a growing business for the major wireless carriers, many of which no longer subsidize a customer’s purchase, because a monthly payment makes an expensive smartphone more affordable. And Apple and the wireless carriers often need access to your credit report in order to approve the sale of a new phone under a monthly plan.
“But if you are someone who has frozen their credit record, you may suddenly discover that you can’t afford an iPhone X, after all,” said Patrick Moorhead, an industry analyst with Moor & Insights.
Providence, Rhode Island-based Citizens Financial Group, which runs the Apple financing program, said any new or existing customer who has a credit freeze on their information will be declined financing.