I was watching the 10 o'clock news last night, and saw a consumer protection story that is worth sharing. So, thanks to NBC 15, here's a bit of useful information...
Many have heard about identity theft and the damage that can be done to your personal credit rating by those who mis-use your identity. One thing that you can do, at no cost to you, is place a "fraud alert" on your credit report. This alert is good for 90 days, and you will be e-mailed a notice to renew that alert over and over.
When you or someone else attempts to open a credit account in your name, increase the credit limit on an existing account, or obtain a new card on an existing account, the lender takes steps to verify that you have authorized the request. With the alert, the lender will have to go even further to verify the identity of the applicant. So, anyone who may be attempting to use your identity to open a new account will have their efforts thwarted before they can ever open the account.
The good news is this is free and only takes a few minutes to do. You can find more information at http://www.equifax.com/answers/set-fraud-alerts/en_cp. Issuing the "fraud alert" at this site will automatically issue the alert with all three credit rating bureaus.