Identity Theft Protection - Help Yourself

Identity theft protection has become a pretty important consideration for a lot of us; we are more aware that the Bad Guys can do horrible things once they have access to a few pieces of information - and worse, it's difficult to reverse the damage once the genie is out of the bottle. 

While there are paid protection services that you can use (usually for a small monthly fee of $10-$15 or so), there are several things you can readily do yourself - for free - steps that the paid services simply do on your behalf.

As you probably know, your credit score is calculated by several credit bureaus, the "big three" being Equifax, Experian and Transunion; most of the monitoring is done by them, and you can initiate some of it yourself. Your credit score is based upon these credit reports.

Annual Credit Reports - you can get a completely free copy of those three credit reports annually from this site:

You can read up here on how to figure out what's on the credit report and what it means for you.

Fraud Alert - the first thing you can do is establish a fraud alert message on your credit report, meaning that lenders have to verify your identification before extending credit to you (you would think that's a given!). This is effective for 90 days at a time, so you do need to set a reminder to renew it. If you set this at Experian, it should also be in effect for the other bureaus.

Opt Out From Pre-Approved Credit Card Mailings - these are little pots o' gold for the Bad Guys just sitting in your mailbox, as they contain a lot of information that can be used against you. You can opt out of these using this site:

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