How to Stop Identity Theft Problems

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated January 28, 2021

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Protect yourself from identity theft
January 28, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Around 1 in 15 citizens will face some form of identity theft during any given year. Whether you’ve managed to avoid being part of this statistic or already had your identity stolen, it’s important to take proactive safety measures. Here are some of the more common practices for stopping identity theft in its tracks.

While it’s possible to protect yourself with services like LifeLock or directly through the credit bureaus, there are other proactive measures available that will reduce the likelihood of identity theft. These are a few best practices you should already be engaged in.

  • Protect your mail: Check your mail daily and request a USPS hold when out of town. Stealing mail is a common identity theft trick.
  • Stay vigilant with your social security number: Your social security number is the first step in stealing your identity. Never carry your SS card with you, and if anyone asks for the number, make them explain why.
  • Strong passwords: Utilize hard-to-guess passwords to prevent identity thieves from accessing info that can help their endeavors.
  • Check your credit report: Each of the three credit bureaus allows one free credit check yearly. Check one every four months to monitor for suspicious activity.

If any term could easily describe freezing your credit, it’s “scorched earth.” While this won’t destroy your credit, it will stop its use completely. A credit freeze essentially stops any creditor from looking at your score.

By doing this, no one applying for credit in your name – including yourself – will receive it. You’ll have to contact the bureaus to remove this freeze. You could also utilize a credit lock. This is a less drastic measure which will simply require creditors to check further into your background.

Many of the services provided by LifeLock could be done on your own. This raises the question, though, of whether you really want to freeze your credit, consistently monitor its use or resolve instances of identity theft yourself. LifeLock’s price starts at $9.99 a month, and for many people, the convenience is worth the cost.

You can no doubt perform DIY real-time credit monitoring in real time. thanks to certain websites or financial institutions, but the real issue arises if your identity is stolen. While over 80 percent of victims aren’t held liable for funds stolen, there are still those who do face the financial repercussions. The LifeLock service will reimburse stolen funds and cover your compensation and court costs, if you face any.

Proactively monitoring your own credit or utilizing a service such as LifeLock can go a long way in preventing identity theft. Unfortunately, only the “scorched earth” tactic of a credit freeze can guarantee safety. The important thing is to know all your options. This will help you conclude the best way to protect your identity.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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