ID theft is a significant problem in this country. Recent studies indicate 8-9 million people were victims of ID theft last year.
There are a number of steps that should be considered to protect yourself from ID theft. It is a good idea to consider use of a credit monitoring service. I have used Equifax for credit monitoring for a number of years and have been very happy with their service. More information on Equifax services can be obtained at their website http://www.equifax.com
I currently use Equifax ID Patrol and both I and my wife subscribe to this service. Two different accounts should be used, one for husband and one for wife, and Equifax offers a discount for the second account. (I am told that children under the age of 18 do not need a monitoring service as credit files cannot be maintained on an individual until they reach the age of 18.)
Obtaining credit reports is recommended to help identify ID theft and also identify other problems related to your credit. At a minimum, you should obtain routine credit reports and review each report for unusual items such as new accounts or other changes. Credit reports can be obtained for free from the website http://www.annualcreditreport.com
Be careful to ensure you are using the correct website. There are look-alike websites purporting to be free which are not the same as Annual Credit Reports.
Annual Credit Reports will allow you to obtain one credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion every 12 months. This would allow you to get a free credit report every 4 months.
To obtain your free credit report go to http://annualcreditreport.com and select your state (make sure the HTTPS lock appears in your browser). Enter your name, address, Social Security number and complete the security code question at the bottom of the entry page.
You can then select the company you would like to obtain a report from. (If you alternate your selections you can get a free credit report every 4 months.) You will be redirected to the company’s website you have chosen and can obtain your credit report.
Another strategy to consider in protecting yourself from ID theft is to utilize credit report freezes (not the Dairy Queen type). More on this topic in my next blog.