Money Talks News: Should you freeze your credit

Money Talks News - Last year, about 15 million Americans were estimated to be victims of identity theft. If it has not happened to you, it has probably happened to someone you know.

One way to deal with the problem involves freezing your credit.

Using plastic as a form of payment is convenient, but these days it is increasingly risky. But what can you do? As it turns out, there are at least three things you can do, each of which has its pros and cons.

First, there are the heavily advertised, and expensive, monitoring services. Drawbacks? In addition to cost, they are not typically preventing theft, they are notifying you of it after the fact.

You can monitor your own credit with any number of free, web-based services, or you can just monitor your account yourself.

Next idea? You can slow down crooks with a fraud alert.

Put a fraud alert on your account and those opening credit accounts in your name should take extra steps to make sure it is actually you. Advantages? It is fast and free. Drawbacks? It only slows down new credit from being opened in your name.

The most effective thing you can do to prevent new credit being opened in your name? Using a credit freeze. What this does is freezes your credit file so no one, including you, can open up new credit in your name.

Drawbacks? Unless you have been the victim of identity theft, depending on where you live, you might have to pay to put a freeze on and take it off. You will have to thaw it before you can get new credit accounts.

Finally, it only prevents new credit: Someone could still steal your current card numbers.

Paid monitoring, fraud alerts and credit freezes: What is the best? For most people, it is a fraud alert, which is simple and free, and then monitoring your credit yourself, which is also free.

If you have already been a victim of credit theft, though, a credit freeze may be the best recommendation.

There are more information and links regarding identity theft and they are waiting for you on the Money Talks News website. Just do a search for "Credit Freeze".

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