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Should I use a credit monitoring service to protect myself from identity theft?

Some consumers pay for credit or identity monitoring services to protect themselves against identity theft. Before considering these services, be aware that free services are also available to protect consumers. 

These free services include:

  • A security freeze. Putting a security freeze on your credit report will generally prevent new credit from being opened in your name. Under a new federal law effective September 21, 2018, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit record for free at the three nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax , Experian , and TransUnion  – no matter what state you live in.
  • A fraud alert. If you believe that you've been the victim of identity theft or fraud (or are about to), you can place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert doesn't prevent a lender from opening credit in your name, but it does require a lender to take certain measures to verify your identity first. An initial fraud alert lasts up to 1 year unless you decided to remove it sooner. 

You can also submit a complaint to the CFPB online.