Consumer Reports examines ID theft services - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Consumer Reports examines ID theft services

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC TV) - If you're concerned about someone stealing your financial identity, you might be
tempted to buy one of the many heavily promoted identity protection services.

Consumer Reports analyzed the billion-dollar industry. The companies charge $120 to $300 a year to protect your identity. The marketing can be heavy-handed, with claims such as "one of the fastest-growing crimes," "9 million Americans fall victim," and "you could already be a victim."

Consumer Reports found that the most damaging type of identity theft is rare. Less than one percent of households reported someone opening unauthorized credit, stealing their tax
refunds, or tapping into their medical benefits, according to the Department of Justice.

Furthermore, the main service those companies offer is monitoring the big credit
bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and Transunion—for new credit requests in your name.

But you can do that yourself.

Consumer Reports recommended getting an annual credit report from each of the three
reporting bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. It's free, and if you stagger your requests, you can get a fresh report every four months.

If you have reason to suspect a security breach, you can place a 90-day fraud alert
on your credit report that warns lenders to be more vigilant about granting credit.

Consumer Reports said for added protection, place a security freeze on your credit
report so that lenders you don't already do business with, such as banks, won't have
access to it. That makes it more difficult for crooks to open new accounts in your name.

But if you apply for new credit, be aware that you'll need to temporarily lift the freeze,
which carries a fee.

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