Noted below are a few links to free consumer services that may prove beneficial in your efforts to combat your identity being stolen. Please note that while placing a fraud alert, freezing your credit, and checking your credit report are all valuable tools in reducing your risk, ID theft is not a preventable crime and none of these efforts will completely eliminate the possibility of you becoming a victim. However, when used in conjunction with an ID theft protection plan from Zander Identity Theft Solutions, these proactive measures will ensure that you are well protected if you do become a victim.
Annual Credit Report.com
https://www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228
This site allows you to request your free consumer credit report once a year from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. We strongly recommend a self-monitoring method of accessing your free credit reports throughout the year. However, since not all lenders access credit bureau reports prior to extending credit, and identity theft involves much more than just credit-related fraud (i.e. employment, medical, criminal, benefit, and Social Security fraud), monitoring your credit report has significant limitations and is not an effective tool by itself. Remember that your spouse is eligible for the same free consumer services and checking both of your reports, if applicable, is highly recommended. In addition, please be aware that access to your credit report is free and that none of the additional services offered at https://www.annualcreditreport.com or the credit bureau sites are necessary to retrieve your free report.
You can add a fraud alert to your credit report for up to one year under new legislation to help protect your credit information. A fraud alert can make it tougher for a thief to open accounts in your name. When a fraud alert is present on your report, creditors are supposed to verify your identity before extending credit, usually with a phone call. There are many lenders such as “Quick Cash” outlets and other vendors that do not use credit reports prior to their lending activity so fraud alerts can be of limited value but are certainly worth considering. Fraud alerts can be placed online, or you can call the credit bureau directly – directions for each method are below, and Experian will even notify the other two credit bureaus on your behalf. Online: https://www.experian.com. At the bottom of the page, click on Fraud Alert. You will be given the option to add a temporary, one-year fraud alert – simply complete the form and verify your identity. You will also be provided access to your credit report. We recommend you print it and review it carefully. The other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified on your behalf. Phone: Call Equifax at 1-888-766-0008. Follow the instructions to place your fraud alert. They will also notify the other two credit bureaus on your behalf.
A credit freeze offers the opportunity to lock down your credit, stopping a thief from using your information to open a new credit account. This can be an effective tool for those who do not utilize credit (or do so infrequently) in their lifestyle, but could create a delay and frequent inconveniences if access to your credit report is needed for things like renting an apartment, buying a home, cell phone and utility review or applying for a credit (a Dave Ramsey no-no). There no longer fees associated with freezing and “thawing” your credit file and these activities can be conducted online in most cases.
It’s important to note that a credit freeze only prevents new accounts from being opened; credit card companies and banks where you have existing accounts can still check your credit report, and businesses that do not seek credit reports before extending credit would not be included.
Children are a target for identity theft because the theft of a child’s identity could go undetected for years. Identity theft could affect your child’s future credit and employment history if thieves obtain credit accounts – or even get jobs – using your child’s identity.
TransUnion now provides a secure online form that you can complete and submit to find out if your child has a credit file. Once you submit the form you will receive an email reply within 24 hours letting you know if there is a credit file with your child’s Social Security number.
OptOutPrescreen.com lets you Opt out of receiving pre-approved, unsolicited credit and insurance offers in the mail. You are given the choice of opting out for five years or you can opt out of firm offers permanently. With just a quick look in your mailbox, identity thieves can locate enough information from offers of credit to open a new account with your name and information. Using this free service reduces the volume of mail that you receive, diminishing the probability of becoming a victim of fraud.
By signing up for the Do Not Call registry, you will drastically reduce the number of annoying telemarketing calls you receive, which will ultimately reducing your risk of being scammed. The FTC requires all telemarketing firms to check the list every three months. Telemarketing firms are required to clean their telemarketing leads from all registrants of the do not call list. Since the FBI cites telemarketing fraud as one of the most common sources of identity theft, this free service is highly recommended.
This website is a one-stop national resource to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft. On this site, consumers can learn how to avoid identity theft, and learn what to do if their identity is stolen.
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