5 Free Tools to Protect Your Identity
Jackie here. Protecting your identity doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Here are some free tools you can use to help keep your identity safe.
Free Yearly Credit Report
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re entitled to a copy of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus once a year. You can take all three at once, or spread them out over the year. Get your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com – this is the only website where you can pull your credit report for free under the FCRA. Your free reports won’t list a numerical credit score, but if you want to get an idea where you’re at, try the free FICO score estimator. Just answer a few questions using your credit reports and you’ll get a range that your score will likely fall into.
Are you at an increased risk for ID theft? A fraud alert makes it harder for identity thieves to open accounts in your name by requiring businesses to contact you before issuing credit. You can place one on your file by contacting one of the three credit bureaus (they will then contact the other two). This tool can protect you for 90 days and is especially useful if you’ve found unauthorized accounts on your credit. Keep in mind that putting a fraud alert on your account can also lengthen the process for you to open legitimate lines of credit, as businesses will need to contact you before issuing credit as well.
File for a fraud alert here. Remember, you only have to file with one of the three credit bureaus to get protection from all three:
Anti-virus software is a great first line defense against malware. You don’t have to spend a bundle to protect your computer from viruses and malware threats. Most free options have scaled back features when compared to the paid versions from the same company, but are good options to test out the service and for those on a budget. Here are some free anti-virus options:
For extra protection from malware (a big ID theft threat), try anti-malware software. Malwarebytes has a free version available.
Opt Out for Pre-Approved Credit
Those pre-approved credit card offers are a gold mine for identity thieves. Make sure you aren’t making it easy for someone to obtain credit in your name. Opt out of pre-approved credit offers by visiting OptOutPrescreen.com.
Which of these free identity protecting tools have you tried?