Recently, national media have reported that freezing your credit could be one way to proactively protect yourself against identity theft.
Unless you have had your identity stolen, it is best to consider other methods first. These methods will allow you to reduce your risk of identity theft but still allow you flexibility to obtain credit.
Freezing your credit restricts access to your credit report. It will make it more difficult for thieves to open new accounts in your name, but it can also make it harder for you to open new credit accounts, too.
Even if your credit is frozen, identity thieves can still access your current credit lines. Kentucky charges a fee for credit freezing unless you have been a victim of identity theft.
You can reduce your chances of being an identity theft victim other ways. Opt out of prescreened or “preapproved” credit offers or insurance offers that come in the mail. These are an easy target for would-be identity thieves. You can request your name be removed from these list by visiting the official Consumer Credit Report Industry website at https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t or by calling 1-888-567-8688.
You can opt out of unsolicited offers for a five-year period or permanently. Removing your name from these offers will not impact your credit score or your ability to obtain credit. If you change your mind, you can use the same website and phone number to opt back in.
Actively monitor your credit by requesting a free credit report from the major credit reporting agencies. You are entitled to one free report from each of the three major credit reporting companies each year. Keep a close eye on your credit reports throughout the year by requesting these reports from one company at a time rather than requesting them all at once.
For more information on identity theft and consumer protection, contact the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Service at 549-1430; e-mail DL_CES_WHITLEY@EMAIL.UKY.EDU; or visit the office located in Cumberland Regional Mall, Suite 34, Williamsburg.