Want to protect yourself from identity thieves?
Getting a credit freeze is the best way to do that, according to Danny Katz, the director for Colorado Public Interest Group (CoPIRG).
A credit freeze currently costs $5 to $10 in most states, but as of Friday, a credit freeze will be free.
A credit freeze stops credit card companies, banks and other lenders from accessing your credit records. According to the Colorado Public Interest Group, "most creditors will not issue new credit to a customer if they cannot see that customer’s credit report or the credit score derived from it. Therefore, by blocking creditors from accessing your credit report, you’re stopping identity thieves who apply for new accounts in your name with your stolen Social Security number."
However, one drawback is that it also freezes you from getting a new credit card, loan or other credit accounts. When you want to apply for a new account, you'll need to unfreeze your credit.
Once you open your new accounts, you'll want to freeze your credit reports again for your protection.
The cost to unfreeze your credit, and set up a new credit freeze is free.
To freeze your credit, you'll need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus after Friday's fee change:
CoPIRG recommends requesting a freeze with one more company — the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange.
The NCTUE also issues credit reports for people applying for cell phones. To prevent a thief from opening a cell phone account, and racking up bills in your name, CoPIRG recommends freezing your credit with NCTUE.