Dealing with identity theft can be very painful! People who haven't dealt with identity theft truly don't understand just how painful it can be! Identity theft is indeed a crime that, much like other crimes, can affect you for many years to come. There's no physical harm involved, but in the highly financial and credit-reliant world we live in, it's no wonder that something like identity theft can be devastating!
There are many things you need to know and do when it comes to identity theft. There are protection, detection and direct dealing aspects to take care of - quickly. Depending on the damage done, you will need to layout out some strategies to handle the credit repair process.
There are also different levels of severity of the attacks (or potential ones) that can be dealt to you, and the measures that you take can vary in impact as well.
The simplest credit protective mechanism is credit report fraud alert. With a fraud alert on your credit report, any creditor or other credit interested entity that wants to view your credit report will be warned to make extra verifications to confirm that it's indeed « really you » that has made a request for credit, and not an imposter. The length of the credit alert depends on what you judge to be necessary. You can add a credit fraud alert by contacting either Equifax, TransUnion or Experian. It's a common way of dealing with identity theft and one that doesn't really cost a lot. Ther are other credit fraud alert methods, just do you research to make sure they have good reviews and are in good standing with the BBB – Better Business Bureau.
On the other hand, security freezes are a much more serious measure against identity theft. Instead of a simple warning, a freeze actually impacts the ability of a business to check your credit report. That means you need to provide a password to allow your credit to be accessed. A credit report security freeze is much more secure than an credit fraud alert, and although imperfect, will give an identity thief much more trouble with a lot of the techniques he uses.
Credit Report Monitoring
And then there are the good habits you can and should take. Checking the information on your credit report as often as possible is essential to keeping identity thieves from running a muck and hurting your credit report even more – when the cats away, the mice will play. The frequency of your credit checks will of course depend on the service that you choose and the price that you pay. The cheapest would be the free credit reports you can get either on the web or by law in certain states. Going annually certainly isn't a high frequency, but it's the least you can do to keep things under check, especially if it's free and require you minimum effort. If you're willing to pay, credit monitoring can be a strong source of regular information that will help you deal with most any problem or wrong entries on a more timely basis and keep going with your credit repair.
And finally, don't forget to use the web to pay your bills to avoid any stealing of personal information that can be used to access your credit from your recycling bin, keep your key information as safe as possible and never give it away. Also, avoid pre-approved credit cards which can just lure identity thieves in using your name. Securing your credit identity is already hard, and we don't need something like identity theft to get in our way. Use the three methods above depending on what your situation is with identity theft, and you will put the odds in your favor of making your way out of it safely.