Here is a collection of things to make your life easier. I have used all the indicated ones and they are officially sanctioned by various government or credit agencies (i.e. not scams like most of them) and do work – I’ve used all but one.
Stop all mailed credit card offers:
This one was a godsend. I would get 3-5 credit card offers a WEEK. Each one is a time bomb because it only takes one being picked up and filled out by a stranger to enter the wonderful world of identity theft. If you fill out the online version, you get no offers for 5 years. The service is free and seems to be run by a partnership of credit card companies. Fill out the paper one, mail it in, and they stop forever. I filled it out a year ago and they’ve all stopped. There is a stipulation for offers you request or folks you have recently done business with, but my rate has dropped to 0-2 a month.
National Do Not Call registry:
Kills all those telemarketers up front. This is one the government runs and keeps annoying calls from happening during dinner. Yes, this does work – I’ve had it for over a year. If you do happen to get a call (I have not) – find out who it is calling and file a complaint for a multi-thousand dollar per-violation fine to be slapped on them.
The nuclear approach – freeze it all:
As of October 1, 2007, all Oregonians will be able to place a security freeze on their credit file maintained by a credit reporting agency such as Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Once activated, anyone who has fraudulently obtained your personal identifying information would not be able to open new accounts or borrow money – in fact – nobody can open anything (including you) unless the freeze is lifted. The freeze also prevents lenders and others from gaining access to your credit report for review. Which means companies cannot even look at your credit to profile or screen you.
This is stronger than a credit alert. Credit alerts are what people usually put on their credit reports if they are victims of identity theft. But credit alerts still allow companies to open lines if they have done ‘due diligence’ to make sure it’s really you. The steps most companies use are up to them. And most are just a simple phone call to the number on the application – which is nearly useless if the application is fraudulent. A freeze prevents ANY activity unless you file to unfreeze – a process that requires $10 and a mailed in form.
I know of one guy doing this now, and he says it seems to work great. I’m still looking for information about whether this leaves any blemish/ding on your credit rating, but so far it looks ok in my initial reads.