Protect your identity by freezing your credit report

If your identity is stolen, you can put a freeze on your credit report. A thief can steal your identity at anytime. The credit freeze prevents the three major credit bureaus from releasing your credit information. The credit bureaus will need your approval to release your credit file. However, a freeze on your credit report can stop you from getting credit in the future.

A freeze will stop companies from accessing your credit report. You may not be able to get a loan or use a credit card. The freeze can delay other types of transactions you have to make. For example, you apply for a job and the company needs to check your credit. The employer will not be able to review your credit report without your approval.

Therefore, you might not receive timely approvals from phone companies, employment agencies, housing and rental agencies, mortgage companies, insurance companies, credit card companies and other businesses.

Here are the practical steps that will help you put a freeze on your credit report after your identity is stolen:

File a police report

You should file a police report if your identity is stolen. Write down on a sheet of paper how your identity was stolen. Be very specific and include as many details as possible. Contact the local police department and file the report online, on phone or in person. Make sure you keep a copy of the police report.

Contact Experian, TransUnion & Equifax

Contact each of the three major credit bureaus to apply a freeze on your account. Determine how you will apply for a freeze. You can write, call or apply for the freeze online with these agencies. There may be a fee for this service. Use these links to help you get started Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Let all your financial institutions know that your identity has been stolen.

Basically, you log on to the credit bureau’s website. Register and get a username and password. After you gain access to the site, you apply for the freeze.

Inform employers and other agencies

Tell your employer your identity was stolen and that you have filed all the necessary paperwork. This is extremely important because identity theft has caused people to lose their jobs. You should also contact the Social Security Administration and other government agencies and let them know that you have put freeze on your credit report due to fraud. You might have to apply for another Social Security number.

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission has some excellent information about what steps to take after your identity has been stolen. At this site, you will learn how to place an extended fraud alert and how to place a credit freeze. The phone numbers for all three major credit bureaus are also listed on this page.

Finally, make sure you keep good records because you will need documentation to prove that your identity was stolen. Do not throw away any documents. Put them in a safe and keep them forever. Check your credit report at least every six months. Look for suspicious activity in the credit report. Also, you might want to subscribe to an identity theft protection program to help prevent identity theft.