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Free Identity Theft Protection - How to Get No Cost Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft is a real and growing problem, but protecting yourself against most forms of identity theft is pretty darn easy and for the most part, it's free.

This article is going to go right to the point and guide you through the basics of getting free identity theft protection.

The laziest of people might feel more secure coughing up anywhere from $10 a month to over $400 a year to have someone else watch your back. But most of the leg work of gathering your personal info for the credit reporting agencies has to be done for the credit watch company your paying anyway. With a little more diligence, you can keep a whole lot of money in your own wallet by following these simple steps.

In fact, you can pretty much do everything that actually works to protect yourself from identity theft without ever leaving this page. That includes the ability to download all the forms needed to freeze your credit report in 5 days after your request is received by the 3 credit reporting agencies. Sound too good to be true? It's not. Read on.

Common Sense is Your First Line of Defense

Step 1: Although many incidents of identity theft are the result of people right around you, (friends, relatives and business associates) …it's still a good idea to use some common sense about how you handle your personal information. In the unlikely event of a stranger gaining access to sensitive information through your trash, invest in a personal shredder and use it.

Next, eliminate most of the barrage of credit card solicitations you receive in the mail by opting yourself off the list that banks, credit card and insurance companies use for their mailings.

Similar to adding your name to the "Do Not Call" list, by taking your name off the table, you'll soon end most of these solicitations which will cut down on the chances your personal information could end up in the hands of a thief. And you'll probably help save a few trees.

Go here and sign up to "Opt Out" of credit card and insurance company offers.

Step 2: Block access to your credit report by freezing it. Most states have enacted laws requiring the three major reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax & Experian) to honor any request to "Freeze" or block access to your credit report.

Go to this page and scroll down to the Security Freeze Table for more information about the rules in your state.

In some states, the 3 reporting agencies can charge a nominal fee for the freeze and subsequent re-opening of the file, usually only $5 or $10. In New York for example, sign-up is free but there is a re-open charge of $5. Again, check the rules for the state where you reside.

So, why freeze your credit report? How does it help?

When you freeze access to your credit report, you effectively prevent anyone from establishing a loan or line of credit. That's because the lender won't have the ability to run a credit check without access. Without the ability to process a credit check the lender will not process a loan or line of credit in your name.

Below are three sample letters that you will need to mail to the 3 reporting agencies to freeze your account. After downloading each letter, while filling in the info, pay careful attention to the requirements of each agency.

Download Sample Credit Freeze Letter to TransUnion

Download Sample Credit Freeze Letter to Equifax

Download Sample Credit Freeze Letter to Experian

After completing the letters, be aware that they must be sent out via the USPS as certified letters or overnight mail. Not only would you not want the information mixed in with the regular mail for obvious reasons, they won't be accepted by the agencies through the regular mail anyway.

That's it. Congratulations! If you follow through with the above steps, you will have effectively protected yourself from one of the biggest headaches of identity theft; having loans, leases and lines of credit opened up under your name.

Plus, within a few weeks, you will start to see less and less junk mail credit solicitations, which means less time shredding sensitive information. And you saved yourself some cash by doing it yourself.

By: Rick Contrata

Related Articles: 17 ID Theft Protection Best Practices - Your ID Theft Protection Checklist

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