Multiple Layers of Identity Theft Protection

Prevent getting Identity Stolen

What options do consumers have once they learn that there’s been a data breach involving their credit cards, medical records or whatever? Certainly there are ways they can be proactive in the aftermath to prevent getting their identity stolen.

Fraud Alert

  • The victim of a data breach or identity theft can set up a fraud alert. What this means is that if a criminal tries to obtain a credit line or loan in the victim’s name—the thief begins the application process—the creditor will know to inform the potential victim.
  • So if one day a creditor contacts you and asks, “Have you recently applied for a credit card?” and you haven’t, then this is a blaring red flag that someone wants to steal your identity in the name of opening up a line of credit and maxing it out, sticking you with the payments.
  • The fraud alert is a strong layer of security; a fraudster won’t be able to get past the application process.

Credit Freeze

  • A credit freeze does what it says: It freezes your credit. It cannot be used. It is on lockdown. This is much stronger than a fraud alert, but it’s even stronger when it’s used in conjunction with the fraud alert.
  • To get a credit freeze, the consumer must provide their SSN, name, address and a copy of one of their utility bills to verify their identity.
  •  A fee for a credit freeze can be zero or up to $15.
  • A credit freeze makes it just about impossible for someone to commit new account fraud identity theft against you.
  • If the consumer, though, wants to get a loan or obtain a new line of credit, they can thaw the freeze for temporary access. This requires a username and password that the credit bureau that’s associated with the freeze will snail mail to the consumer.
  • Retailers, credit reporting agencies and banks once fought against allowing credit freezes, because these potentially get in the way of consumers making big purchases that require new lines of credit. But the credit freeze is so doggone effective at preventing fraud.

    Credit Monitoring

    • Credit monitoring is the least inconvenient of these three forms of protection against identity. And it costs money. However, with the aforementioned two tactics, credit monitoring adds yet another layer of protection.
    • With credit monitoring, the consumer has easy access to their credit without any disruptions.
    • But suppose a crook wants to open up a line of credit in someone else’s name. This then leads to an inquiry of the victim’s credit report. At this point, the victim is notified of this transaction. This is when they will learn that someone else is trying to commit fraud against them. The intended victim can then contact the lender and order that the application be terminated.

    By implementing all three of these approaches, you can breathe easy that you probably won’t ever be the victim of identity theft.