Place a credit freeze on your files
A credit freeze helps stop anyone from opening new accounts on your credit. This would stop a thief from opening up a new credit card or loan in your name. You will have to request this from each of the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. There may be a $5 charge to place or remove a credit freeze from your account.
A credit freeze also stops many legitimate businesses from accessing your credit, so you may need to temporarily lift your credit freeze before doing the following:
- Applying for any type of loan, mortgage, or credit card
- Applying for insurance
- Switching or starting a new utility, including a cell phone
- Applying for a job
- Renting an apartment
Check your credit report
You can check your credit report from any of the credit reporting agencies for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com. You can get one free credit report per year from each of the credit reporting agencies.
Guard yourself against identity theft
If you see any activity, new loans or credit cards, that you don't recognize, you may be the victim of identity theft. You should deal with identity theft as soon as possible. You can visit IdentityTheft.gov for a step-by-step guide of how to protect yourself.
File your taxes early
Tax Identity Theft happens when someone uses your social security number to get a tax refund or a job. You should respond right away to any letters from the IRS. You should not believe anyone who calls you saying that they are the IRS and you will be arrested for unpaid taxes, even if they have part or all of your social security number.