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 and low cost services are also available to protect consumers, including:

  • A security freeze. Putting a security freeze on your credit report will generally prevent new credit from being opened in your name. Each state has its own rules about credit freezes and how much you pay for them. In most states, you can file a security freeze for less than $10, and if you are an identity theft victim, you typically can place a freeze for free.
  • 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.
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