By Bob Brooks
July 25, 2014
There are several ways to protect yourself from identity theft. However, there is one that is superior to all.
This is an identity theft prevention process. A credit monitoring service will alert you every time something changes on your credit report as well as anytime an inquiry for credit is made. I call it the first line of defense against identity theft. Once you find out that an unauthorized inquiry is being made, you can immediately contact that lender and stop the process. We recommend www.truecredit.com.
Fraud Alert and Extended Fraud Alert
If you suspect or know you are a victim of identity theft, then you can place a 90 day fraud alert on your credit file. With that fraud alert on your credit file, lenders would have to contact you and verify that you are the person attempting to get credit. It works 75% of the time. You can also extend that coverage for 7 years.
This is simply the best way to protect yourself. With a security freeze, NO ONE can access your credit file except you. You have to “unfreeze” your reports to open them back up for public access. If you have a credit freeze on your credit files, you have a lock on them. If you are a victim of an identity theft, you can get one for free if you mail in a police report. However, I have found if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, you need it done immediately. You have to initiate this with the 3 main credit reporting agencies.
Here is what you do:
Equifax – You can do it on-line by clicking here.
Transunion – You can do it on-line by clicking here.
Experian – You can do it on-line by clicking here.
In most states it costs $10 per credit reporting agency. You can also “unfreeze” your reports at these same links. Once you freeze your accounts, you will get an online letter that gives you a PIN that you will use to “unfreeze” those accounts.
You have to weigh the costs. However, it makes sense to pay the fees to freeze and unfreeze your reports if you are not applying for credit that often.
If you want to completely lock up your credit files where no one can access your information without your approval, then you would initiate a credit freeze.
Obviously nothing is fool-proof and even with a security freeze you have to be diligent in making sure your information is protected. However, out of all of the options, this seems the best way to go.