10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft Without Paying for Credit Monitoring Services
Identity theft is a growing problem that affects millions of people each year. Many people turn to credit monitoring services as a way to prevent identity theft, but these services can come with a hefty price tag. However, most of the features offered by credit monitoring services can be replicated at almost no cost with a little effort and time. Here are 10 ways to prevent identity theft without paying for credit monitoring services:
1. Get Your Free Credit Report
You can obtain a free credit report once a year from each of the major credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. For best results, space out your requests so you can review your credit report every four months.
2. Place a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze will stop an identity thief from opening a new account in your name. Depending on your state’s credit freeze laws, it could cost nothing to place and/or lift a credit freeze. Make sure you file the freeze request individually with each of the credit reporting bureaus.
3. Monitor Your Social Security Number (SSN)
Create a my Social Security account to get your Social Security statement which details anywhere your SSN was used. This is the equivalent of SSN monitoring offered by many credit monitoring services.
4. Put an End to Mailbox Dangers
Invest in a lock for your mailbox or get a PO box at your nearest post office. Go to OptOutPreScreen.com and request to be removed from mailing lists that get shared by credit reporting bureaus.
5. Never Stop Learning
Take the time to learn more than just what you find here. Find tips in Elite Personal Finance’s guide, ‘100 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft’. Subscribe to Robert Siciliano’s blog to stay up-to-date with the latest tips from an identity theft expert.
6. Place a 90-Day Fraud Alert
Place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit file by notifying one of the three credit reporting bureaus of the request. The alert will advise prospective lenders to contact you to verify your identity.
7. Create a Wallet Backup
Keep an updated list of your wallet’s contents, including card numbers and contact lines. If you lose your wallet, contact each company on the list and let them know before any damage gets done.
8. Shelter Yourself Online
Remove yourself from your local directory and set up a Google Alert for your name. Regularly check to see if your information shows up in search results.
9. Use Your Bank’s Mobile App
Set up various types of security alerts on your bank’s mobile app. Keep an eye on your account every day and watch out for any transactions that shouldn’t be there.
10. Freeze Your Empty File
If you have no interest in building credit, make a credit report tied to your SSN and freeze it to prevent identity theft from becoming a risk.
Conclusion: You Can Avoid Identity Theft for Free
Credit monitoring services are not necessary to prevent identity theft. By taking the initiative to better your personal security, you can replicate most of what these services can offer at almost no cost. It’s just a matter of making the effort to implement the security layers outlined above.