If you listen to talk radio, you have undoubtedly heard numerous ads for identity theft products. The way the show hosts make it sound, you would have to be crazy not to sign up for one of these programs. Some, like Rush Limbaugh, even mix the ad in their show along with a news story of a recent identity theft case. Just like with a lot of things, this coverage 'sounds' really good. The cost, however, can range from $10 to $20 monthly. A married couple would be shelling out $120 to $240 yearly to be a member one of these programs. With budgets tighter than ever, is this something you really need?
A Credit Freeze May Be The Answer
It was very interesting to learn that the primary tool used by identity theft programs, a credit freeze, can be accessed directly with the credit bureaus. In most states, if you have been a victim of identity theft you can have your credit file frozen for free. The free offer also extends to senior citizens in most areas as well. If you are not eligible for a no cost credit freeze, the cost is very nominal - typically about $10.
You may have seen that famous LifeLock ad on TV where the owner of the company gives out his actual Social Security number by painting on the side of a box truck. Many wondered, how could this guy do it? The answer - a credit freeze, something you can do entirely on your own.
What Is A Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze is an added layer of security on your credit file that requires a pin code for your credit report to be accessed. The exception to this would be the creditors that you already have ongoing relationships with. The downside of a credit freeze is the extra step required to access your file. This may mean that it could be difficult to apply for that credit card at the mall while you are at the register checking out. It may mean a few extra minutes of your time to authorize access to your credit file if you are applying for a mortgage or an auto loan. If this inconvenience is something you are not concerned about, you can start the process right away of freezing your credit file.
Another important safeguard is to check your credit report one to two times per year. You should be on the lookout for any accounts you do not recognize and also any unauthorized inquires (pulls of your credit report). One of my most popular articles is on how to get your credit report for free. No need to sign up for any trial memberships if you use my strategy. You can legally get your credit report for free one time per year. You can also obtain your credit file at no cost any time you are denied credit based on information in your file.
ChristianMoney.com agrees with the conclusion of Consumer Reports, that most people do not need to pay for identity theft programs, and if there is a risk, a simple credit freeze is all that is needed. If you do want to purchase this coverage, here is a side by side review of the major plans.
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